Meet Oyster Farmer

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The day I first realized I was about to become an oyster farmer was in the mid-nineties. Marthe Laberge and I were working for Redonda Sea Farms as part of their stringing team. This fairly boring job consisted of threading old oyster shells which had been laboriously set with baby spat onto 2 ply string and hanging them in the water so that in three years they would be huge clusters ready for Asian and other markets. The job was repetitive enough that we had some pretty good conversations out there on the swaying rafts.

On the day in question Norm Gibbons, the manager of Redonda Sea Farms, suggested that perhaps we might like to buy our own rafts. We pondered this possibility and then thought perhaps we could share one? After more conversation and encouragement from Norm, we decided we would take the plunge and build a raft each. From these humble beginnings, I continued to amass rafts. After buying the Bee Islets Lease from Fanny Bay in 1997, Marthe and I were part of a group of some 25 individual oyster farmers. Some members only tried this for a while before going onto other ventures. I ended up with 17 rafts in the Gorge and then bought a 50-acre lease in Waddington Channel, along with Marcel and 4 other partners. My farming career was launched. This continued for a number of years while Marcel and I financed the building of our house.

Now that is done, the Waddington Lease is sold and I am very content to farm in the sheltered waters of Gorge Harbour. The days of riding the inevitable waves from Waddington Channel to Squirrel Cove, our boat heaped high with oysters, were exciting times and occasionally terrifying. This dramatic phase of my oyster farming is now over. The plan is for my sons to take over the business but sons often have their own plans so we shall see.

Julia Rendall

See you at the Seafest, Gorge Harbour Marina Resort, Saturday, May 19, 2018, 10:30 until the food lasts.