Wilmington will soon be drowning in oyster farmers, oyster distributors, oyster-loving chefs, oyster-researchers and other oyster-farming industry folks when the 2020 Oyster South Symposium begins in the city on February 20. Oyster South is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that celebrates, supports and promotes the cultural, economic and environmental benefits of the Southern sustainable oyster farming community, and its fourth annual Symposium (which travels to different destinations around the Southeast) brings Oyster South members and others together in Wilmington to discuss pressing issues and share relevant, practical research on oyster aquaculture.

Over the three-day event, attendees will learn more about Southern oysters and how to best grow, deliver and serve them. Programs on this year’s agenda will compare and contrast different farming methods, discuss legislation currently affecting the industry and highlight “guerrilla marketing” tactics that oyster farmers can put into action to help brand and sell their harvest. And there’s plenty of time for fun too, with tours to local oyster farms (Cape Fear Oyster Company and N. SEA Oyster Company) and hatchery at the UNCW Shellfish Research Hatchery on Thursday, a “Shuck and Tell” event on Friday night at Wrightsville Beach Brewery and a trade show that lets suppliers and vendors show off the latest and greatest in oyster farming gear.

Symposium presenters will be preaching to the choir, but the organization is also aiming to get Oyster South’s message out to the general public. “We want people to know who we are, what oyster farming is and to spread the word about its multiple benefits,” said Oyster South executive director Beth Walton. “We must educate others on the significance of regional oyster farms. They create eco-friendly jobs in coastal communities, and Southern oyster farms — including those in the waters right here off Wilmington — are producing excellent oysters, some of the best you’ll find anywhere.”

Visit https://www.oystersouth.com/events for Symposium details and more information on Southern oyster farming.