Since Andrew Carmines took over as general manager at Hilton Head Island seafood restaurant Hudson’s on the Docks, he’s been working on cutting out the middle man. He believes in purchasing his products directly from the source, giving the customer the freshest product available.
Equally important to Carmines is environmental impact. He believes if you are making a living from what the ocean provides, you should be responsible about the resources you are depleting. “Shell Ring will allow us to avoid purchasing large amounts of the natural resource and will clean the water in the process,” Carmines said.
About three years ago, Carmines was looking at some oysters that were picked in the Port Royal Sound area.
“The size and shape of these oysters were what every restaurant is looking for. I thought that if I could grow these consistently, we would really have something.”
This prompted him to start doing research on oyster farming. Two years later he visited Chincoteague, Va., where he worked with some distant relatives who are very successful in the oyster farming industry.
“It all started out as a ‘what if ’ idea,” he said. “Then, as we researched it more and started to delve deeper into the feasibility of the project, it started to become more realistic.”
Carmines began going through a tedious permitting process with several different government agencies. By Christmas 2013, the project was permitted and ready to begin work.
After some uncertainty on where to find seed oysters, he made contact with Bill Cox on Yonges Island.
Due to a delay on oyster seed from Virginia, Triploid oyster seed was virtually unavailable in the state. Triploid oyster seed is a faster growing variety of seed oyster. Cox’s hatchery on Yonges Island had the ability to produce the seed. He would have to get Triploid males from the Gulf and breed them with diploid females from South Carolina. This had never been done.
“To this day, Bill and I laugh about how many times a week I would call him asking him to get started on the seed,” said Carmines.