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Fukui's Monthly News Letter

Applying Q+Q=P

My last column on Quality and quantity = profits certainly drove home a point, based on the amount of feedback and positive response I received from readers.

I had originally planned in this column to share information on how adapting to change had allowed growers in a specific area to re-think their equipment for oysters. So much so that now after many years of avoiding change, these growers are producing a higher quality and, since growout was faster, a higher quantity of product. However, due to the response on the last issue, and the fact that the photographs demonstrating the use of the new system havenít arrived at my office yet, that column will have to wait until the next issue.

The frequent comment on the Q+Q=P information was: "OK youíre right, youíve hit the nail on the head but now what? Tell us how to make it happen." Or, "How can we produce more product at the same or better quality, profitably, if it takes more capital investment which is hard to get?"

The answer, of course, is not simple or easy. If it were, everybody would be doing it and as a result we would have other issues to work on.

In answering, I will assume that you have perfected a way to make sure that you have the highest quality shellfish available or, then again, maybe you havenít paid as much attention to this as you should have. If not, you need to make sure that your number one priority is quality product. Without quality you have a product that is perceived to be like that from a commodity market carrying a lower price.

Husbandry equipment, biological information, and site selection that will help you with quality are available. It is important to understand, what quality the consumer wants and focus on supplying to that standard.

In the case of oysters, improved shell shape, taste, appearance and shell life, can be accomplished with equipment that allows the animal to grow in the mid-water where it will pick up the ocean taste influenced by the available nutrients instead of whatever has settled at the bottom.

This is accomplished by using a growout method that will take advantage of the surface wave action by having the animals constantly in motion against each other, pruning the shell and allowing for a top grade look.

Stressing the animals by keeping them out of the water at low tide longer during the first stages of growout creates a better seal therefore extending shelf life. The Adjustable Longline System for Oyster Growout (ALS) from Australia covers all of this in the sub-tidal zone.

Once you have established the quality standard, you need to look at quantity. You will have to look at methods and equipment to maximize the output of the other areas of your site where the ALS system could not be used. Beach planting surface bags as well as suspended trays from rafts or longlines can be effective (see diagram).

Staying with oysters, with the advancement of equipment technology, it is becoming increasingly easy to make this happen. As the diagram suggests, it is possible, site specific of course, that existing leases that have only one husbandry method - and as a result only one way to generate revenues - could have at least four revenue generators.

The argument of carrying capacities can be an issue. However, experimentation on this topic based on known references can be a guideline. In almost every area that I have visited, carrying capacities were almost underestimated and therefore underutilized. Husbandry methods such as these will require some fine tuning, depending on the location and planning of labour times per unit.

When it comes to mussels, site efficiency is more dramatic in that, in general, new husbandry methods have been ignored by all but a few. These few however have found ways to increase significantly the output of their leases and, as a result, are really following the Q+Q=P guidelines.

I have been on a few mussel farms that are set up to be efficient, but they are not achieving Q+Q=P objectives. The cause of this may very well be the lack of access to equipment and ideas combined with a lower market value of a relatively easy to grow product. Or, the grower may be resistant to change.

For example, I was on one mussel farm a while back that had 80í of water depth and no thermocline or stratification of available food, yet only the top 17í of the water column was being used because their mussel socks would break if longer than 12í.

The grower hadnít considered using stronger socking methods or trying continuous methods which, after we discussed the possibility of the efficiency of his site, would allow for a minimum 2 Ĺ times production increase.

In this case since preliminary work had been done on the characteristics of the site, matching the equipment and husbandry procedures would be a minimal task.

Similar efficiency in hard clams are available when you look at the success in such places as Cedar Key, Florida.

Be careful, however, that you donít get caught up in the what-works-there-will-work-here syndrome. It may be that in your area a slight change could be required to get your Q+Q=P objectives.

I will go into more detail on these and of the efficiency in husbandry methods that have practiced the Q+Q=P in future columns. Those wanting more specific information in a shorter time frame are welcome to contact me directly through Bishop & Associates, our new consultation subsidiary.

Contact Don Bishop at:
Fukui North America
PO Box 669
110-B Bonnechere St.W.
Eganville, Ontario K0J 1T0
**NEW**Tel: 613-559-0075 or 613-628-5266
**NEW**Fax: 613-432-9494
Email: kate@fukuina.com or don@bishopaquatic.com

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