Bandeira do Brasil

Bandeira do Brasil

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Santa Catarina provides almost 80 percent of all oysters produced in Brazil: more than one million dozen per year, approximately two thousand metric tons. It all began in 1987, when aquaculture experts from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) recommended an alternative income for technically adept fishermen that would avoid fishing the marine species protected at that time. However, according to Nino Souza, managing director of Cavalo Marinho, the fishermen couldn't deal with the management requirements and the people who cultivate oysters today are doctors, engineers and other experts: They recognized the potential of this segment and invest in the markets around Santa Catarina. "Most fishermen ended up selling the cultivation areas that they received as a donation to grow oysters in the 1980's," explains Nino. From a technical point of view. the UFSC's project was an overwhelming success. The Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) adapted so well, that they dubbed Santa Catarina's capital, Florianópolis, as Brazil's oyster capital.
Oysters have to arrive at the restaurant table alive, which makes their transportation exceptionally problematic. Especially when the 720 km  journey from Brazil´s main production area in the state of Santa Catarina to the main buyer in Sao Paulo is made through a hot country under difficult road conditions.


Oysters are cultivated in cages called lantern nets. They get their name from typical Japanese lanterns because they look just like them – long and divided into sections. Each lantern has five sections and contains a total of 25 dozen mature oysters. The boat harvests about 300 dozen oysters. "Production begins with a spat that looks like a grain of sand," explains Nino. "The Federal University of Santa Catarina cultivates the spat. They select oysters directly from the sea, mate them and grow spat from the larvae. The oyster is born with a foot and swims like a small fish until it develops its shell and attaches itself to something. Once the spat develops, it takes about eight months until the oyster reaches the perfect eating size. If it remains in the sea, it continues to grow. The size of a baby is about six centimeters. Average size is reached when it is about eight centimeters. This is the maximum size that restaurants accept. If oysters are left in the sea for longer, they can reach a size of over ten centimeters.

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