Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


James E. Kirkley


Oyster production in Virginia has declined dramatically in the past ten years, causing Virginia oyster processors to rely increasingly on oyster supplies from other regions. In response to the industry problems, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) developed and began implementing an Oyster Fishery Management Plan (OFMP) in 1985. Primarily, the plan seeks to increase Virginia oyster production from both public and leased grounds. A large increase in production could significantly affect the oyster market. There is thus a need to understand the Virginia oyster market, which derives raw material supplies primarily from public and leased-grounds production and from other states. Although the level of competition among the three sources is uncertain, it is thought to be substantial and quite important for the success of the OFMP. This study assesses the level of competition and associated sector interaction. A simultaneous equation system is specified and estimated by Full-Information-Maximum-Likelihood procedure. Estimates and a market simulation model are used to assess the impact of the OFMP on market behavior. Analyses indicate that the market for the public ground fishery consists of an elastic demand and an inelastic supply, but the market for private oyster cultivation consists of an inelastic demand and an elastic supply. The market interaction between the eastern oyster and Pacific oyster is weak. Oysters from leased grounds compete with supplies from other regions and with Pacific oysters. Market simulations indicate that the OFMP will increase total revenue for both public and private producers, suggesting that (1) the seasonal closure on commercial oyster fishery may be extended as stock size recovers, (2) increasing private production may reduce oyster supplies from other states, and (3) from the market interaction point of view, the Pacific oyster may be an alternative for private oyster planters.



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