Jon Mitchell photo.

First-of-its-kind, 10,000 sq. foot cannery, begins operations in the Port of New Bedford

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“Mayor Jon Mitchell, elected officials, and Island Creek Oysters, Inc. (ICO), an aquaculture farm based in Duxbury, Massachusetts, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, October 31st to announce the opening of the Island Creek Cannery, a first-of-its-kind cannery on the East Coast.

The 10,000 sq. foot facility will give local shellfish farmers consistent access to the market while providing a shelf-stable, nutritious line of local value-driven seafood products, contributing to a more diverse, sustainable, and secure aquaculture industry.

The facility will also help address oversupply by ensuring adequate processing capacity during market fluctuations, shore up prices for farmers, reduce waste, diversify species and food, and create a range of jobs from processors to marketing experts.

Island Creek Oysters, Inc. was founded in the early 1990s by Skip Bennett, who wanted to grow sustainable, quality shellfish products. After 27 years, the company has evolved into a vertically integrated and diversified business and cutting-edge aquaculture leader consisting of a headquarters, shellfish hatchery and world-class R&D center, shellfish farms, wholesale distribution, innovative consumer-facing e-commerce, retail, and hospitality businesses. They buy from and promote over 100 New England shellfish farms and fishermen.

The company developed a strong relationship with the City and the Port as it advanced its plans in New Bedford. In a letter to Mayor Mitchell in November 2021, Robert Chandler, Director of Operations at ICO, wrote, “We have chosen the historic Port City of New Bedford in large due to your leadership in spearheading the New Bedford Ocean Cluster. We applaud your robust support for a sustainable, working waterfront with thriving local fisheries and aquaculture, modern-day infrastructure, and a skilled workforce. We share your vision for an innovation-driven coming together of marine science, commercial fishing and processing, and cutting-edge advanced technology to drive employment and wealth creation for New Bedford residents.”

“As America’s seafood capital, New Bedford is the fitting location for the country’s first cannery of craft conservas in the U.S.,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “Island Creek is a naturally renowned brand in the premium shellfish market and a leader in sustainable harvesting practices. We look forward to supporting them in this exciting new venture.”

“We are firm believers that New England’s greatest assets are its coastal communities. The new Island Creek Cannery allows us to build the infrastructure we need to reposition canned seafood for US consumers in a way that will not only promote better access to responsible, healthy, domestic protein but also redevelop a major value driver for coastal communities–the American cannery,” explained Island Creek Oysters President, Christopher Sherman. “With 25 years of experience in cultivating a consumer-facing lifestyle brand that educates and inspires consumers about the multi-faceted benefits of oysters and aquaculture, the Island Creek team is thrilled to be the stewards of this transformative initiative.”

“The new facility, Island Creek Oyster’s Inc., is a welcome addition to the Port’s overall seafood processing capacity and it aligns well with the strategic priority the Port Authority has placed on the development of both aquaculture and shoreside business development,” said New Bedford Port Authority Director, Gordon Carr.

All photos by Island Creek Oyster’s Inc.:

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About Island Creek Oysters:
Skip Bennett, owner and founder of Island Creek Oysters, planted his first oysters in 1995 after three years growing quahogs in the Duxbury Bay. After much trial and error, and some undeniably delicious oysters, Island Creek Oysters has grown into one of the largest and most reputable aquaculture businesses in the US, selling millions of oysters per year around the world. Intense care is given to every step of the farming process, from hatchery to harvesting. Because of Island Creek’s commitment to excellence, the National Shellfish Association named Island Creek Oysters the best oyster in America. For more information, or to purchase oysters for home delivery, please visit http://www.islandcreekoysters.com.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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