Kodiak is debuting its newest seafood crop: oysters!

The first batch will be ready for slurping next week. Credit goes to Erik O’Brien who grew up in Kodiak and has fished his family salmon setnet sites his whole life at Larsen Bay, a pearl of a place that is perfect for oyster-growing.

“Larsen Bay might have some of the best growing waters we’ve seen in Alaska. Larson Bay is a relatively large body of water with an extremely narrow opening, so it’s very protected in a fjord. And so it warms up.  It’s got our big Kodiak tides, so there’s a lot of tidal flow and it faces Southwest Alaska, which is a whole bunch of wind with a lot of energy and stirring up of nutrients. And so you’ve got this huge stirring of nutrients that really seems to promote the growth.”

The superb growing conditions have O’Brien’s oysters reaching market size in little over two years compared to the usual four or five. He also credits his floating culture  system that will eventually span 20 acres.

“There are bags tied together on a long line and you put floats on one end of the bags and they float in four inches of water. And that has some other benefits, too, because my oysters are really clean and they’re on the top of the water.”

Right now O’Brien is only using about a half-acre site which should yield 150,000 oysters by September. His goal is to double production each year and eventually produce 5.5 million annually and provide full-time mariculture jobs at Larsen Bay.

Seafood Auction

Meanwhile, local oyster orders already are flowing into Island Seafoods, Kodiak’s retail and custom processing outlet, a division of Pacific Seafoods. Ian Whiddon is store manager – 

“I’m thrilled to be featuring Kodiak oysters. I’ve been selling live shellfish here at Island Seafoods for over 20 years. And I’ve always sourced them from other parts of the state or from the Pacific Northwest. So I’m really thrilled to be featuring local oysters.” 

Whiddon says they are some of the best he’s ever tasted and he hopes Island Seafoods can soon help distribute O’Brien’s Kodiak oysters throughout Alaska and the Lower 48.