Possible Key for Struggling Oyster Industry

Ben Lovel and his brother Clay are on a mission to revolutionize Florida's oyster industry. New to Florida but used worldwide, the brothers are growing oysters in underwater cages.

"We are very surprised and encouraged by a growth rate. And it's just been a process of steps and learning curve," said Ben.

The family was just given permission to use floating cages.

"Because every once in a while you'd come over, and flip it over," said Clay.

That should make for better faster growing oysters and an easier harvest.

"It does open up, you know, the job market to people who can just work out of a boat like they have, you know throughout history, rather than waiting around and actually being under water," said Ben.

This summer is the brother's first harvest. The oysters are only available at the families’ restaurant.

"We've been open about 11 months?" said the brothers. When asked how many oysters they thought they had, they said "Probably about 250 to 300."

They hope someday to develop a cottage industry. While the future is uncertain, the brothers are hopeful. In this harvest a grown scallop.

"We're finding these are volunteering in these bags. There is no commercial harvest for scallops in Florida anymore; if we could do this in an aqua culture method it would be huge," said Ben

With each trip to their offshore lease, the brothers are learning new techniques.

"He was in the mud, and that's the biggest benefit we are looking for. Is getting these things out of the mud and up in the water column," said Ben.

Ben and Clay Lovel hope to have their oyster cages floating by September and their first harvest by next spring.

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