Island Creek Oysters opens cannery in New Bedford to produce shelf-stable shellfish products

An oyster farm operated by Island Creek Oysters.

Duxbury, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based Island Creek Oysters is opening a first-of-its-kind cannery on the East Coast.

The city of New Bedford held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Island Creek Cannery on 31 October. The facility will be 10,000 square feet and will produce shelf-stable shellfish products, according to the company. The facility will produce up to 8,000 tins of preserved oysters, razor clams, and hardshell clams, and may add mussels in the future.

Island Creek Oysters CEO Christopher Sherman said the facility creates an opportunity for shellfish farmers to have consistent access to the market while also providing nutritious lines of local value-driven seafood products year-round. It is also designed to address oversupply issues by ensuring adequate processing capacity during fluctuations in the market, shoring up prices for farmers, reducing waste, and creating new jobs from processors to marketing experts, he said.

Founded in the early 1990s by Skip Bennett, Island Creek Oysters has since grown and diversified into operating a shellfish hatchery, research and development center, shellfish farms, wholesale distribution, e-commerce, retail, and hospitality businesses. The cannery’s focus will be on producing Spanish-style conservas, or gourmet tinned seafood, at reasonable prices, according to Sherman. 

Island Creek Oysters obtained a food security infrastructure grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to support its expansion. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said the city is also providing support.

“This is a unique business in the U.S., and New Bedford is the right place to open it up,” Mitchell said. “We are hands down the highest-grossing fishing port in the U.S. We have the largest seafood processing base in the United States. We are to seafood what Omaha is to beef.”

Island Creek Oysters will provide “healthy, affordable seafood” to Coastal Foodshed, a nonprofit that provides local produce to the Greater New Bedford and Fall River communities, as part of its commitment to the city.

Reporting by Carli Stewart

Photo courtesy of Island Creek Oysters


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