Inside the UAE shellfish farm that is growing millions of oysters

Published originally by The National

A stone's throw from the Fujairah coast, millions of meaty oysters are being harvested in the Sea of Oman.

Located 500 metres offshore, Dibba Bay Oysters takes pride in being the first and only shellfish farm in the UAE that produces gourmet oysters.

Bright white and orange buoys speckled with barnacles bob in the open water and act as markers for the 3,700 square-metre aquafarm. Within the next few months, it is set to expand to 4,200 square metres.

The extra shelter also helps keep predators such as crabs and stingrays at bay.

Typically, oysters are farmed close to shore, where there is a lot of tidal movement. Mr Murray said his stock was farmed offshore because the warmer climate made for a great harvest.

“What enables us to farm in this environment? Well, traditionally, people tend to think oysters can only be farmed in cold climates. That’s not the case,” he said.

“Generally, in cold climates, there’s an upwelling of water which brings food to the surface.

“Here, we farm a little deeper but have a good upwelling of cold water and a constant supply of natural food. Fujairah is one of few hot places with an abundant algae supply.”

Each month, about 70,000 oysters are plucked from the waters and sent to local and global markets.

By the end of 2021, Mr Murray wants to harvest up to 500,000 each month because there is high demand, especially in Russia.
On the day The National visited, about 10 million Pacific cupped oysters of varying sizes swayed in a series of lantern nets metres below the surface of the water.
The lanterns look simple but they play an important role in the harvesting process.

The nets work to keep the oysters out of the muck so they can feed in the water column and avoid being smothered by sediment.

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