Oysters

Oysters

Oyster

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Pacific Oyster
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT PACIFIC OYSTER

Originally from Japan, the Pacific or Japanese oyster was first introduced on the West Coast from larval seed oysters brought from Japan to British Columbia, where fisheries based on the slow-growing Olympia oyster were in decline. The Pacific oyster is now the most commonly farmed shellfish both in the United States and worldwide. This fast-growing oyster may reach 12 inches (30 cm) long.

Commercial Sources

Pacific oysters are native to northeastern Asia. However, they have been introduced into Europe, North America, East Asia and Oceania.

The main sources of Pacific oysters are China, Japan, South Korea and France. Oysters sold in the U.S. market are primarily from the United States, South Korea, Japan and China.

Capture Methods

Pacific oysters come from shellfish farms. Farmed oysters are raised with suspended systems.

+-Oysters (farmed)
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT FARMED OYSTERS

These filter-feeding bivalves (having two shells) come from both wild harvests and aquaculture operations.

+-Oysters (wild)
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT WILD OYSTERS

Inhabiting waters from eastern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the Eastern oyster was once the mainstay of the American oyster market, but disease has taken its toll, especially in the Chesapeake Bay.

Commercial Sources

Eastern oysters are native to the coasts of North America, from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Panama.

The main sources of Eastern oysters are the United States, Mexico and Canada. Eastern oysters sold in the United States are primarily from the United States and Mexico.

Capture Methods

Wild oysters are primarily harvested with tongs. Additional types of fishing gear include dredges and rakes; they are also handpicked. Farmed oysters are grown in bottom cultures.

+-Eastern or American oyster
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT EASTERN OR AMERICAN OYSTER

Inhabiting waters from eastern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the Eastern oyster was once the mainstay of the American oyster market, but disease has taken its toll, especially in the Chesapeake Bay.

Commercial Sources

Eastern oysters are native to the coasts of North America, from the St. Lawrence River in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and Panama.

The main sources of Eastern oysters are the United States, Mexico and Canada. Eastern oysters sold in the United States are primarily from the United States and Mexico.

Capture Methods

Eastern oysters come from coastal fisheries and shellfish farms. Wild oysters are primarily harvested with tongs. Additional types of fishing gear include dredges and rakes; they are also handpicked. Farmed oysters are grown in bottom cultures.

+-Edible oyster
Best
Low

MORE ABOUT EDIBLE OYSTER

The edible or European flat oyster was transplanted to the United States and is now cultured in New England and the Pacific Northwest. This is a smaller oyster species with sweet but small bites of flesh.

Commercial Sources

Edible oysters are native to the coasts of Western Europe, from Norway to the Mediterranean region.

The main sources of edible oysters are Spain, France and Ireland. Oysters sold in the U.S. market are primarily from the United Kingdom.

Capture Methods

Edible oysters come from shellfish farms. Farmed oysters are grown with suspended systems and in bottom cultures.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
Pacific Oyster Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Oysters (farmed) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Oysters (wild) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Eastern or American oyster Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Edible oyster Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Eco details: 

These filter-feeding bivalves (having two shells) come from both wild harvests and aquaculture operations.

All three species — Eastern oysters, Pacific and edible oysters — are farmed in the U.S. Look for ones that are raised on suspension systems, since dredging is not required for harvest.

Wild oysters are usually harvested by hand, rakes or dredges, which can damage bottom habitat.