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The Future of Aquaculture Oysters

Recent growth of the aquaculture shellfish industry in Virginia has added significant value to the State’s seafood marketplace. Virginia’s watermen-farmers are providing additional quantities of quality shellfish to consumers. This is an emerging industry based on improved culture techniques and disease-resistant oyster seed.

In 2013, a reported 106 million single oysters were planted, which is a 59% increase from planting in 2012 and exceeded grower expectations by 27%. The outlook for 2014 suggests an additional 30% increase to 138 million oysters planted by Virginia growers.

The 2013 crop reporting survey indicated the total number of market oysters sold by Virginia, subtracting the reported sales from those indicating involvement with a cooperative was 31 million. This was an increase of 10% from 2012 and is slightly less than the 35 million cultured market oysters grower’s expected from the previous survey year. The forecast for 2014 is reported to be an additional 51% increase to nearly 50 million market oysters sold. It is estimated that the total revenue for oyster aquaculturists was 11.1 million, an increase of $1.6 million from 2012.