Governor: Oyster harvest reached record numbers in 2013

WAVY/Aaron Kurtz
WAVY/Aaron Kurtz

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that Virginia’s oyster harvest last year reached the highest numbers in nearly a generation.

According to a press release the oyster harvest in Virginia increased from 23,000 bushels in 2001 to around 504,000 bushels in 2013, the highest level seen since 1987.

“Over the past few years, Virginia has become the oyster capital of the East Coast, and that is great news for our Commonwealth’s economy,’’ said Governor McAuliffe. “The growth we’ve seen in the oyster harvest is extraordinary, but hardly a surprise. Virginia produces the best tasting oysters in the world, and every sustainably-harvested oyster helps clean the Chesapeake Bay and create good jobs in a tough economy. There is no question that Virginia is for oyster lovers.”

The press release also says preliminary harvest estimates show gains in oysters caught from public oyster rocks as well as from privately leased water bottoms.

According to a formula established by Dr. James Kirkely, with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the effects through the economy from the harvest in 2013 created an estimated $58.4 million in economic value.

According to the release, the oyster replenishment program provides both ecological and economic benefits.

“Oysters are doing well right now. We are making tremendous progress,’’ said VMRC Commissioner John M.R. Bull. “It is worth celebrating, but we need to keep in mind that oysters live in a dynamic, ever-changing ecosystem.”

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