WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Oyster farmers have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Their biggest customers, restaurants, are buying less product than they use to.
“Today [Wednesday] is the very first time our distributor down in Charleston, who is our main distributor, hit us up and asked for oysters and he only asked for — thankfully, he asked for any — but he only asked for a quarter asks for purchase shipment,” says Josh Dunn of Soundside Oyster Farm
Dunn also says they have to drive 20 minutes north to Turkey Creek to get their boat into the water to get to their farm since the ramp in Surf City has closed.
Farmers are forced to find ways to adapt to this new reality. Those include freezing, smoking the oysters, giving them out to neighbors to help them out, or they just eating them.
“We’re really concerned for the timing of the oyster we have out there reaching market size getting really close and they don’t know there’s a pandemic going on right now so they aren’t going to stop growing,” says Keith Walls of Falling Tide Oyster Company.
Oyster farmers are now looking how to adapt.
“Everybody in the local food industry is trying to do the same thing,” says James Hargrove, Middle Sound Mariculture. “Obviously people can still get things shipped to their house but even with that there’s people without a job not spending as much money or just with the unknown of where this thing is going people are just a little bit tighter on what they are spending their money on.”
Walls says Falling Tide Oyster Company is thinking about doing more local deliveries, while maintaining social distancing. They are looking to help their community out during this time.