Shellfish Farming Adds $81M to the Commonwealth

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Shellfish Farming Adds $81M to the Commonwealth

Report of shellfish farming activity finds that oyster and clam farming in VA contributes $81.2 million to the state and added employment of 925 in 2012.

Shellfish farming clams.

VA Shellfish farming leads in clam production nation wide. ©Stephanie Chavez/VASG

A report released by Virginia Sea Grant and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) finds that oyster and clam farming in Virginia has an economic impact of more than $81.2 million to the state and added employment of 925 in 2012.

“The report chronicles not just Virginia’s growth in shellfish aquaculture, but also how the broader economy expands with the development of commercial shellfish culture,” says Tom Murray, Associate Director for Advisory Services at VIMS and Virginia Sea Grant Extension Leader, who co-authored the report.

The jobs and economic impact numbers take into account the farm value of clams and oyster as well as additional economic activity fueled by the presence of the shellfish farming industry.

As the relatively young shellfish aquaculture industry continues to grow, this economic web of activity has significant implications Virginia. Total farm sales for clams and oysters in 2012 was $36.3M, compared to a more widely recognized agricultural product like tomatoes that have an average annual farm value of $58.8M in Virginia, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Center.

Unlike tomatoes and other agricultural products that are grown on private farms, shellfish are grown in coastal waters, public property leased from the State by shellfish farmers.

In view of this industry’s continued growth depends on more than just the individual growers, says Murray: “Public decisions that impact growers, affect a much broader community. This report demonstrates the absolute importance of maintaining industry access to those critical growing grounds.”

Read the full report here