Oyster larvae are fed diatoms for the first four weeks. ©TomAlgae

Rob Fletcher writes for thefishsite.com that TomAlgae, the feed firm specializing in the production of freeze-dried algae to be used as feed in shrimp and oyster hatcheries, is looking to crack the North American oyster market.

The US produces 140,000 tons of oysters a year, making it the world’s third largest producer of the bivalves — just behind Japan (300,000 tons) and South Korea (280,000 tons), but double that of France (70,000 tons).

TomAlgae, which cultivates diatoms (Bacillariophyceae sp.) at its production facility in Belgium, recently made major inroads into the South Korean oyster market, where a growing number of hatcheries is now using the company’s key bivalve product, Thalapure Mollusca. And it is now hoping to emulate this success in the US, in part by providing one of the 11 ICX (Industry Connection) prizes – the winners of which were announced at this year’s Fish 2.0 competition.

Each 20 g sachet of Thalapure contains about 60 billion diatom cells.

“North America is the third largest oyster producer in the world,” says William van der Riet, CEO and founder of TomAlgae. “And by providing an ICX prize to two oyster producers we hope that we can not only help them to grow their businesses by sharing our expertise in algae, but we can also learn more about the US market from them — the knife cuts both ways.”

The winners of the prize were Panacea Oysters of Spring Creek, Florida, which is restoring oyster farming in Apalachicola Bay by creating a unified brand and guaranteeing purchases to farmers; and Pensacola Bay Oyster Company, another Floridian firm, which is producing premium oysters for the half-shell market, with the goal of restoring the Gulf Coast’s environment and working waterfronts.

“Live algae are currently used to feed oyster larvae for up to four weeks in US oyster hatcheries,” William explains. “We aim to scale-down the use of this live algae at this critical stage and encourage hatcheries to work with our product — freeze-dried, phototrophically produced diatoms — so that the hatcheries can focus on the production of oyster larvae, not of algae.”

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