Digging Up Diversity Opportunities on Shellfish Farms

A growing diversity of aquaculture producers is bringing knowledge of farming, farm practices, and food cultures from around the world to help meet our growing demand for seafood. Male managers and employees have traditionally dominated seafood harvesting around the nation. However, Totten Inlet and Skookum Inlet farm manager Aisha Prohim is challenging this stereotype as she enters her thirteenth year at Taylor Shellfish in Olympia, Washington.

Oysters and other shellfish are commonly thought of as delicacies served in white tablecloth restaurants, but the harvesting of these bivalves is anything but delicate. Harvesting at Taylor Shellfish can require long hours on boats or in the mud, picking and sorting shellfish to get consumers a tasty reliable product.

“I often get down and dirty harvesting in the mud with my crew, we work while many of you are still sleeping,” explains Aisha, whose work schedule is dictated by the tide. Taylor Shellfish has many different species and products to grow, maintain, and harvest, so Aisha has a variety in her day-to-day management. “I sometimes work the high tide because I have guys who will work at those times operating our work boats to either harvest, spread transplants, or help other departments, so there’s a lot of communication and management involved,” added Aisha. The shoreline shellfish harvest takes place at low tide, which changes time during the year. During the summer months she works during the day, but during the cold Pacific Northwest winter low tide is around 3 a.m.

READ MORE at fisheries.noaa.gov