Local North Carolina farm-raised oysters are available daily from Pamlico Packing Co., Inc. Our marine aquaculture operation is located on Bay River in Vandemere, NC, which is a tributary of Pamlico Sound. There are many benefits to growing and harvesting oysters. Shellfish aquaculture is a sustainable fishery that also helps improve water quality. Oysters are filter feeders that remove excess carbon and nitrogen from the water while they feed. The aquaculture gear used for raising oysters also serves as excellent habitat for juvenile fish.
Over the past few years as more oyster aquaculture operations have opened in North Carolina there has been a corresponding increase in consumer demand. There are many different brands of cultured oysters now available in restaurants and retail markets throughout the state. Each brand of oyster usually has it’s own unique flavor and appearance, which is a reflection of the location where the oyster was grown. Factors that influence the flavor of the oyster include salinity and the food source (type of plankton) for the oysters. Oysters grown in the local bays and rivers tend to yield fatter meats, while oysters grown closer to the inlets and Atlantic Ocean will have a more noticeable salty flavor. Both are equally delicious.
When preparing our Pirate Pearl brand of North Carolina farm-raised oysters for market, we first remove them from their cages and move them to our shore-side facility via our combination oyster barge and floating duck blind (just kidding…..sort of!) The oysters are then sorted by size, washed, and packed in 100 count bags. Each bag of oysters is tagged for traceability purposes. Information on the tag includes the name and state certification number of the harvester, the date the product was harvested, the time the product was harvested, as well as the harvest area. The oysters are stored in our cold storage until shipped to the customer.
Each step of the harvest process is closely monitored and inspected by the North Carolina Shellfish Sanitation division, which is an arm of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. This helps ensure the finished product is wholesome and ready for consumption by the public. The division monitors water quality in all of the state’s designated oyster harvest areas. Individual areas can be opened and close by proclamation authority from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Director when necessary. The usual cause of a closure is an abnormal amount of rainfall over a given period of time. Once the affected area’s water has been tested and found to be acceptable, the Director can reopen the area.
We have a distribution network that covers most of North Carolina as well as much of the Mid-Atlantic region. Please reach out to one of our sales representatives and we’ll be glad to help provide you with more information about our full line of North Carolina seafood products. North Carolina shrimp is our primary offering packed and frozen in a variety of ways to fill our customer’s needs. Ask for our flagship brand of Carolina’s Finest Seafood in your local retail store or restaurant. If they don’t have it they should!