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 2018, a reported 104 million single oysters were planted, which is a 6% decrease from plantings in 2017 and 8% lower than grower expectations. The outlook for 2019 suggests a 3% decrease in oysters planted by Virginia growers.
The 2018 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 32 million. This was a 17% decrease from 2017 and 23% less than the outlook from the previous survey. The forecast for 2019 is reported to be a 13% increase in sales which is roughly 36 million market Oysters sold. It is estimated that the total revenue for oyster aquaculturists was $13.1 million, a 10% decrease from 2017.