Virginia’s oyster harvest continues to grow
Virginia’s oyster harvest grew 24 percent last year to the highest level in almost three decades, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced Tuesday.
Over the past 11 years, the oyster harvest in Virginia has increased from 24,000 bushels in 2003 to an estimated 659,000 bushels last year, according to preliminary harvest reports from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC).
Last year’s oyster harvest is the highest level seen since 1986 and is 24 percent more than the 533,000 bushels harvested in 2013.
The dockside value of the oyster harvest also increased, from $22.2 million in 2013 to $33.8 million in 2014.
Last year’s harvest resulted in an estimated $89 million in economic value, according to McAuliffe’s office. That figure is based on a multiplier of 2.63 on a dockside value of $33.8 million, a formula established by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Preliminary harvest estimates show substantial gains in both wild-caught oysters from public oyster rocks as well as from privately leased water bottoms last year.
“This level of oyster harvest success was virtually inconceivable a decade ago, but we need to be mindful that oysters live in an ever-changing ecosystem and oysters remain susceptible to disease and other environmental factors outside of our control,’’ VMRC Commissioner John M.R. Bull, said in a statement.