Every day, regardless of wind and weather conditions, oysters with the ritzy name ‘Sylter Royal’ are harvested on Sylt, at the northern tip of Germany. It is one of the northernmost oyster farms in Europe and the only one in Germany. That is what makes it so special. But not only that. ‘The water quality up here, that's what makes the oyster so unique’, explains Bine Pöhner, managing director of the oyster company Dittmeyer’s Austern-Compagnie in List on Sylt. ‘We have the best European water standard here. Comparable with drinking water quality. Apart from the salt content’, she says with a smirk. ‘Only three regions in Europe are rated category A: a tip of Scotland, parts of the Irish Sea and us’, she proclaims and proudly adds: ‘An oyster is only as good as the water in which it grows. We are even allowed to sell the oysters directly from the sea’. People say it tastes slightly nutty with a pleasant hint of the sea.
The Hamburg native has been working on Sylt for 14 years, which she now calls her second home. She describes herself as a ‘Jill of all trades’, who keeps an eye on the balance sheet, looks after purchasing and sales as well as public relations, and sometimes steps into the mud flats to harvest oysters. ‘Basically a mixed bag’, she says.
Her workplace is located in the North Frisian National Park. This is home to the office, which accommodates 5 employees, and the oyster farm. Today, it would be difficult or even impossible to authorise a business there. ‘The location here is linked to many permits. It would be a terrifying administrative task for any company to tackle the practical work of one day’, she proclaims from personal experience. She still has to renegotiate the lease and the contracts at regular intervals.