Monday, 21 November 2011

The bivalve mollusc

When I think of oysters I think of The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll, which is this poem about a walrus and a carpenter who go for a stroll on the beach one sunny night, and trick some naive oysters into joining them, only to eat them. In real life this probably wouldn’t happen. I’m not sure if oysters are really that sentient.

Oysters are filter feeders. They feed on particles in the water, leaving the surrounding water particle-free. This results in oysters being quite environmentally friendly. Pollutants such as sediment and algae are either eaten by the oysters, or shaped into small packets that are deposited on the bottom of the sea where they are harmless.

Mr Chau Ngoc Hong, from the Quang Ninh province in Vietnam is also quite a fan of oysters. He is a farmer involved in an ACIAR project to build bivalve hatchery production capacity in Vietnam. The program has had an amazing economic and social impact on his life.
“With oyster farming, my family had money
to build a boat as a transport means,
moving goods and materials for oyster farming,”
said Mr Hong.
Wonderful! As they say, you gotta spend money to make money! But it’s not just the oyster farm that benefits from oyster farming, Mr Hong’s entire village has benefitted from the profits made by this bivalve hatchery.

The villagers were able to buy fertilizer for improving their crops, invest in forestry developments, and purchase livestock for extra income. One family were able to develop their farm and raise some pigs. Using the money they earned from pig farming they were able to move out of the poor-household list of the village.

The villagers built a community centre and clean water wells so they no longer had to collect water from open streams. Drinking from open streams can make people very sick, but luckily, using money from oyster farming, the village cultured some honey bees for medicine. I know when I’m sick a cup of tea with honey can do the world of good.

Studies have shown honey to be an effective treatment for conjunctivitis in rats.

So thank you, oysters. Your humble existence enriches the lives of many.

(By the way, today is World Fisheries Day.)

Samantha Williams, ACIAR Communications Officer


  1. Glad to know that such a delicious treat is doing so much good in the world.

  2. I know! I like how they filter feed. Like a flamingo. Or a pool pump :)


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