By Janet Krenn
Virginia’s shellfish growers sold an estimated 31 million single oysters and 214 million clams in 2013 for an all-time high farm gate value of $45.1 million, according to an annual survey of shellfish aquaculture operations in the state. Those numbers represent a 10% increase in oysters sold and a 25% increase in clams sent to market.
The “Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report” has been produced annually by Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) extension partners affiliated with Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) since 2005.
The report’s authors, Karen Hudson and Tom Murray, VIMS extension staff affiliated with VASG, say that this year’s report shows that the shellfish industry is healthy. According to Murray “the increase in oyster sales documents what has become a long-term positive growth trend, while the recent increase in clam sales reflects more typical annual variability of a more mature agricultural industry.”
Crucial to the support of the continued growth in both oyster aquaculture production methods remains the hatchery production. Hudson says that the industry is taking proactive steps to improve hatchery operations to supply the demand for young oysters that can grow out into marketable adults.
“There’s been a concerted effort by hatcheries and scientists to work together to ensure consistent production with ever-changing environmental conditions,” says Hudson. This effort comes in response to water quality issues that hampered production in 2011.
Since then, Hudson says all indicators for continued growth of oyster aquaculture and consistent production in clams remain positive for the foreseeable future.
Find the full report here: 2013 VA Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report