|Legends of the Industry|
|Jules Melancon, Fourth Generation Oysterman|
When Capt. Hayman introduced me to Jules little did I know a lifelong friendship was born.
I started buying oysters from Jules in 1983 and have been a friend of him and his wife Melanie since. We have eaten and enjoyed more oysters together than I could ever count.
His passion for his trade drew me in and his love of producing a great oyster his loyalty and tenacious spirit has kindled our lifelong friendship.
About eight years ago Jules could see the handwriting on the wall and realized oyster populations would never be like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather's enjoyed and started looking for other choices to focus his passion. He knew that he was not going to see the volume to be able to fully utilize his 65 foot steel hull oyster boat named, My Melanie. A beautiful boat but too expensive to operate with the diminishing stock of wild oysters, crew members and $200 dolllars of diesel a day made it unsustainable.
|Motor Vessel " My Melanie" at dock in Grand Isle, LA|
|Me and Bill at State of Grace Oyster Bar|
|Jules on the M/V My Melanie 2010|
Bill had mentioned to me that Steve Crockett, in Grand Bay, Alabama was growing oysters from seed, supplied by Auburn's Fisheries lab and was using an off bottom oyster mariculture process. This intrigued me, I asked Bill if I could come down to Bayou LaBatre, AL to see what he and Steve were doing.
|Point aux Pins Oyster Farm, Grand Bay, Alabama Steve, Bill & Jules|
Knowing that Jules was looking to find another profession, which I know he would never be happy with, I asked him to ride down to see what was going on. I told him if he would be interested, I would help him get started and guarantee sale of all of his production. In return would I have a new hobby and all the oysters I could eat. Little did he know how many oyster I could eat. On the ride home he said " Can you sell them, if so I can grow them".
Caminada Bay Oyster Farm was born and now marketed under the Brands, Beauregard Island, Champagne and Caminada Bay Oysters.
This year Jules started his Barataria Bay Oyster Farm on his grandfather's historic Independence Island. From that farm he will market the Queen Bess , Independence Island and a Barataria Pass oyster.
Below is Jules' grandfather's boat hauling a load of seed oyster to Independance Island in the 1940's
The Barataria Basin yielded an oyster know as the "Aristocrat of the Oyster World", which he hopes to duplicate that taste at his new farm. His Barataria Bay farm has been passed down to him for three generations.
|Capt. Beto Eymard's Oyster Lugger Planting Seed in Barataria Bay circa 1040's|
These oysters below were grown from seed using off-bottom mariculture to compete in the North American Oyster Showcase in Gulf Shores, AL in 2015 and 2016.
|Louisiana Sea Grant Lab, Grand Isle, LA|
|Deep Cupped Oysters|
|Beautiful Maricultured Half Shell Oyster|
|Jules,, Me, Dickie Brennan and Chef Eric Cook at Bourbon House for a Caminada Bay Oyster and Wine Tasting|
|Rowan Jacobsen, author of The Essential Oyster enjoying a Caminada Bay Oyster on the oyster boat|
It takes someone that believes in the product because it cost more to produce than a wild oyster!
Jules has found other visionaries that get it, like Dickie Brennan, of the New Orleans Brennan Family of Fine Restraurants and Dan Causagrove of Seaworthy, that have seen the value of promoting locally grown seafood. Thanks to these three gentlemen and those that have reached out for his oyster and giving this new to Louisiana technique a chance.
It takes chef's with vision to see that even if a fisherman produces a great product, it takes someone to market and make sure that fisherman makes enough money to stay in business.
It takes a successful fisherman to makes sure we continue our Gulf Coast fishing tradition and assures us all access to the best tasting seafood in the world.
Jules works his farm alone, with his wife Melanie, helping with the accounting and reporting necessary to run a business. Having built quite a reputation for their terrific farmed oysters, thankfully his demand has outstripped his supply. This has encouraged him to expand and hopefully all those interested in his oyster will have access.
We are all lucky to have fisherman with foresight to see that sometimes doing what your grandparents and parents did is not enough and needs a little change.
Jules has put down his dredge, hand selecting every oyster he grows!
He has changed how he cultivates and grows oysters but like his ancestors is still striving to produce the best tasting oyster on the Gulf Coast! He like his father and grandfathers before him were trailblazers, he's following his own path that is creating quite a wake on the bayous of South Louisiana.
He was the first fisherman in Louisiana to apply for and obtain an Alternative Oyster Culture license. Jules proudly shows off his #001 in the State of Louisiana.
A true pioneer and visionary for the oyster industry, the way his ancestors were.
Check out this link to see short video on Camanada Bay Oyster Farm/ Gulf Seafood Institute
|(AOC) Louisiana License # 001|
|Look for his Famous Oysters at Fine New Orleans Restaurants|
|From my Legends of the Industry Collection|