On a grey and wintry December afternoon, Matt Loo nudges his skiff alongside a buoy in Jack's Cove and kills the outboard. Sitting on the bottom, clearly visible in 5 feet of water lies one of his oyster cages. He hauls it aboard effortlessly, retrieves an oyster from within and opens it with a flourish, wearing the grin of a man at ease in his surroundings.

"If they were all like this I would be a rich man," he says, extending the fruits of his labor - a glistening and meaty 3-inch eastern oyster. It looked so easy but there are no sure things in the world of aquaculture as he has learned in the last four years.

Loo buys two-millimeter oyster seed from a hatchery in Maine where they are sold based on size and genetic line. But you can't just sit back and watch oysters grow, he says. It can take 18 to 20 months for the seed to reach market size, and frequent inspections are essential.

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