Native to our entire east coast and Gulf of Mexico,the Eastern oyster has also been a big contributor to the majority of wild commercial harvests in the Chesapeake Bay and Louisiana. Oyster farming in the United States has been around since the 1800’s and makes up a large portion of U.S. marine aquaculture today. Eastern oyster aquaculture brings in millions of dollars every year. Culture of this species took off, more than a hundred years ago to enhance overharvested wild populations. Oysters naturally improve their local environment. Since they are suspension feeders, they get their nutrients from microscopic algae suspended in the water column. Because of this, they are highly efficient at removing excess nutrients from the water, contributing to a high level of water quality in the surrounding area.Oysters are an excellent source of protein, containing heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low amounts of saturated fat. Just one oyster contains about 28 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron, making oysters a healthy and sustainable protein choice. As with all aquaculture practices in the United States, much care is taken to ensure that the seafood sold is sustainable and safe to eat. Programs and regulations enforce regular monitoring of shellfish practices to provide ocean-friendly seafood to consumers.