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Historical overview of oyster culture in Mali Ston Bay
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Mali Ston Bay is made of porous limestone substrate with ramified network of underground freshwater springs. It is a naturally eutrophicated ecosystem abundant with nutrients which constitute excellent living conditions for oysters and other filtrating organisms. According to the archeological findings in Ošlje, it is speculated that the Bay of Bistrina was well known for oyster culture since theRoman times. The first archive records indicate that oyster culture in this area was well established in 16th century and in the hands of the representative of Dubrovnik Republic in Ston. The rector in Ston was an authority over oyster culture and he gave concessions to local oyster growers, they were obliged to give him a substantial amount of their catch in return. Tree branches without leaves were submerged in shallow water so they would sink when thrown in the appropriate areas where they served as larvae receptors. In 18-th century the officials in Ston were abusing their power to such an extent that the oyster culture become almost extinct. As a result in 1787., Dubrovnik Republic took oyster culture under its jurisdiction and protected it by law. In the beginning of 20th century, Capt. Stijepo Bjelovučić brought in new technological innovations into existing culture method, which reflected in greater production and recognition of «Ston»-oyster on the European market. Since WW II, despite of technological advancement, oyster production in Mali Ston Bay did not grow significantlly and the market diminshed to become of «local» character. Today, there are approximatelly 50 legal concessions and just as many illegal oyster growers.