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Managing Your Business

Once you’ve got your oyster farming business off the ground, there’s plenty of maintenance to be done—and not just on the oysters themselves. Make sure you’re managing your business closely and thoroughly so that your oyster farm can grow and thrive.

Costs and Your 
Bottom Line

Once your oyster farm is up and running, you’ll need to determine how the costs of running your business measure up against your income. If you don’t already have a document in place for evaluating your business progress, we’ve developed an Excel spreadsheet that’s tailor-made for Alabama oyster farmers. (Note: You’ll need a current version of Microsoft Excel to use this tool.)

And remember, your annual tax return can be a helpful tool, as well as as rough estimates of money spent and earned, but there’s no substitute for a solid, long-term business plan. If you need more detailed financial tools to complete your business plan, check out our Financial Statements section.

Financial Statements

In order to effectively manage your oyster farming business, you’ll need to keep up with complete annual data (income, expenses, and taxes), a system for keeping your records, and other pertinent and accurate accounting and financial statements. This will allow you to work more effectively toward a stable, successful business and to tackle advanced, complex business decisions with confidence.

Common financial statements that you’ll encounter along the way include “cash-flow statements,” “balance sheets,” and “income statements,” all of which serve a specific purpose for your business.

For assistance with completing your business plan, we reccomend using the templates availabe through Fish Biz.

Staying on Top of Your Permit

Since there are a lot of legal hoops to jump through in setting up your oyster farm, you’ll want to make sure you stay up-to-date on all necessary permits, easements, and licenses.  

Risk Management

Just like with any business, starting your own oyster farm comes with its own set of financial risks. And that means you’ll need to assess and prepare for any events that could potentially slow down or derail your business.

There are two components involved in a successful risk management strategy: preventing detrimental events from happening, and then diminishing and overcoming the detrimental events that you weren’t able to avoid.

Storm Preparedness

Because oyster farming takes place in coastal waterways, you’ll face the threat of severe weather from time to time. For that reason, it’s important to have a severe storm preparedness plan in place.

Due to the nature of severe weather situations, there may be limited time to prepare for a storm. While the thought may cross your mind, the idea of removing oysters and gear from the water during a storm is not a practical solution. Instead, you’ll need to make sure your gear is secured at or near the sea bottom before the storm arrives. Make sure any cages are sunk, longline baskets are moved to the lowest position, and all anchors and lines are inspected and reinforced when necessary.

Once the storm has passed, check on your gear as soon as possible. Not only will it help you sleep at night to know that your oysters are safe, there may be debris that needs to be cleared from your farming site.

Safety

One of the biggest health concerns in regards to raw oysters is the vibrio bacteria. During the warmer months, there’s a minimal threat of vibrio in raw oysters, but thanks to stringent safety regulations in Alabama’s seafood industry, consumers can feel safe consuming oysters. However, anyone with a compromised immune system is cautioned to avoid raw oysters. To learn more about the vibrio bacteria, visit Alabama Gulf Seafood.

For oyster farmers using the Australian Long Line (off-bottom) harvesting method with hanging baskets, you may be eligible for a 7-day resubmergence period rather than the standard 14-day period.  

Requirements for the farmer:

  • Australian Long Line with hanging baskets.
  • Hanging baskets under a pier.
  • Number of oysters in the basket no more than 100-120.
  • Methods of desiccation:
    • 1 hour freshwater dip, then 24 hour air dry.
    • 24-27 hour air dry.

Resubmergence Application