Treasure Coast woman creates oyster farming business

'Saltwater runs through my veins I guess,' Nicolette Mariano says
Posted at 8:18 PM, Aug 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-19 22:58:59-04

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — A Treasure Coast woman is going all-in on her dream job, taking a chance at a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet.

COVID-19 is leaving many people struggling to find their way in a tough job market.

A Treasure Coast woman decided to finally commit to pursuing her passion and create her own business, one that’s rare in our state and could put local oysters on your dinner plate.

Nicolette Mariano is a Martin County native who grew up loving the water, sea life and aquaculture.

"Saltwater runs through my veins I guess," Mariano said.

She has worked in the aquaculture and research industry for years, taking an interest in oysters.

"I've never been a person that likes to sit inside all day or in a cubicle," Mariano laughed.

But she lost her job in aquaculture in March when the coronavirus was beginning to have major impacts on jobs.

"Just trying to make it work right now," Mariano said. "It's like do or die right now trying to make it happen."

But with the extra time, instead of trying to find another research job or another job in aquaculture working for someone else, she decided to take on her own business, Treasure Coast Shellfish.

She obtained a lease to grow oysters in the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian, predicting to grow anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 oysters.

"It definitely produces a nice, salty oyster," Mariano said.

She also wants to sell her oysters not only to restaurants but to individual consumers.

"The oysters are called Salty Sebastian Silver to keep with the 1715 fleet of the Treasure Coast and the historical significance," Mariano said.

She is now one of just two people, she said, who are farming oysters on the east coast of Florida. She knows she is doing much more than making local oysters more popular.

"One adult oyster about 3-inches long can filter up to 50 to 60 gallons of water a day," Mariano said.

Mariano is also excited about doing her part to improve water quality, attract more sea life to the Indian River Lagoon, and build back some of the oyster populations that have diminished over the years.

"I've created my own little ecosystem and it's given me hope," Mariano said.

She is currently working on securing a storefront to make it easier to get her oysters right to consumers.

To learn more about her business and support her, click here.