By J.F. Meils
Capital News Service
CAMBRIDGE — Kevin McClarren has been growing oysters in nets on the Chesapeake Bay for 20 years.
“We were told it would never work,” said McClarren, who manages four acres of floating oyster grounds for the Choptank Oyster Co. near Cambridge in Dorchester County. “Now we’re ground zero for the artisanal oyster movement in Maryland.”
Since 2011, MARBIDCO, the Maryland Agriculture and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp., has doled out 50 loans to budding shellfish aquaculture startups for a total of $3 million.
According to McClarren, the problem is there’s not enough demand in-state for all the newly cultured oysters being produced — or enough distributors to move them to markets beyond Maryland.