Tomales Bay Shellfish have been sustaining human communities for thousands of years. We’d like to keep up the tradition.
Oysters are an incredible food resource and a benefit to the environment. At Hog Island we believe in growing oysters for future generations to come. That’s why our day-to-day operations include investing in sustainable farming and business practices; working with leading scientists to measure, understand and share the impacts of changing ocean conditions; and collaborating to help grow a shellfish industry that is sustainable for our coastlines, our communities, and our futures.
Hog Island Oyster Co. is a founding member of the Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition. A partnership between shellfish growers across the United States and The Nature Conservancy to inspire climate action now. Learn more about Shellfish Growers Climate Coalition.
Ocean Acidification Research
Ocean Acidification (OA) is a major issue impacting our oceans and planet. Oceans have an incredible ability to absorb carbon dioxide, removing around thirty percent of it from our atmosphere like a giant sponge. There is now so much carbon dioxide being soaked up by the oceans that their chemistry and pH levels are being altered. Not surprisingly, the lives of shellfish are closely tied to ocean chemistry. Shellfish have evolved to build their protective shells from calcium carbonate that is available in the marine environment.
In 2012, Hog Island began a serendipitous partnership with Dr. Tessa Hill, UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute monitoring Ocean Acidification in Tomales Bay. With funding from NOAA, the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) installed a cutting edge OA instrument (nicknamed the “Burkolator” after its inventor Professor Burke Hales). The monitoring effort is led by Dr. Tessa Hill and allows researchers to better track the impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish aquaculture. A second “Burkolator” has been installed at the Hog Island facility in Humboldt Bay, in collaboration with Dr. Joe Tyburczy of California SeaGrant.
A unique collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), and Hog Island Oyster Company is aiming to fill an important knowledge gap – understanding the relationship between oyster aquaculture activity and extent and health of eelgrass beds. Motivated by a need for improved monitoring of aquaculture impacts on sensitive eelgrass habitat, our team is testing the development of a cost-effective methodology using (UAVs) or drones to monitor eelgrass-aquaculture interactions in Tomales Bay, California.
Native “Olympia” Oyster Restoration
Until the late 1800s, the only oyster on the West Coast of North America was a little gem simply called the native oyster (or the Olympia oyster in Puget Sound). Wild harvested native oysters were highly valued by the coastal Miwoks and the miners of the Gold Rush era. But native oysters are very small and grow more slowly than Atlantic and Japanese oysters. With time oyster farmers turned to these more vigorous species, and native oysters slipped off the culinary radar. Despite over-harvest and dramatic ecological changes wild native oysters have persisted, clinging to rocky outcrops and other hard surfaces. Still, populations have never fully recovered. Today there is renewed interest in native oysters – both as a foundational species in West Coast bays and estuaries and as a delicious and truly local seafood option. Hog Island is working with a unique partnership of restoration scientists and shellfish growers to bring back native oysters, both in the wild and on farms and restaurant menus. For more information please visit our friends at the Native Olympia Oyster Collaborative.
People, Planet, Profit
At Hog Island, we believe that doing the right thing is good business. We have grown our company, and our culture, with the 3 P’s in mind: PEOPLE, PLANET, PROFIT. We measure our successes, and identify areas to continually improve with the support of third-party organizations who help us ‘walk our talk’.
In 2015/2016 Hog Island Oyster Co. became the first Certified BCorp shellfish farm and a legally registered California Benefit Corporation. Certified B Corporations (‘B Corps’) are companies that have been certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This is a continual effort toward improving ourselves, with a rigorous assessment process every two years. Click here to read our Hog Island Annual Benefit Report.
California Benefit Corporation
We strive to be low-impact. We operate as efficiently and consciously as possible as we take our harvest from seed to plate.
By controlling and studying all aspects of our supply chain – from transportation to packaging to alignments with other like-minded companies – we’re able to minimize our environmental impact.
In 2016, Hog Island Oyster Co. became a legally incorporated California Benefit Corporation. Benefit corporations have a corporate purpose to create a material positive impact on society and the environment and are required to report on their overall social and environmental performance.