• James Kirkley Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary
  • Philippe Berry, Amy Buss, Douglas Lipton and Ivar Strand Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Maryland
  • Kurt Finsterbusch and Diane Illig Department of Sociology, University of Maryland

Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Marine Resource Advisory No. 54; VSG-94-02


This is a critical period for the future of the east coast oyster industry. This report documents the dramatic decline in industry output which has been the impetus for a publicly funded program to "revtalize" the industry. Oyster biologists argue over the severityy of the decline and the cause, and also the potential remedies. Should non-native oysters, specifically Crassostrea gigas, be introduced into the region to replace the native oyster production? Are there ways to manage around the devastating oyster diseases MSX and Dermo? Will large populations of oysters significantly improve the water quality in currentiy degraded areas?

While these are important issues to address, some more fundamental question needs to be answered first: What is the nature of this industry we are trying to revitalize? What constitutes the oyster industry, and what are the economic, social and legal factors that shape this industry? This report attempts to address these most basic issues. The first thing that becomes apparent is that the oyster so familiar to biologists is only one part of the industry. Having more oysters does not constitute a revitalization of the industry. The oyster industry includes the oyster resource, the harvesters, the processors, the shuckers, wholesalers, distributors, retail markets and consumers. Typically, there is less and less information and data available about the industry as one moves from the water to the dinner table. The emphasis of this study, therefore, has been to try and obtain and analyze information on those groups we know the least about, the processors, the retailers and the consumers.



Oyster, Fisheries, Commercial, United States


This report is published by the Maryland and Virginia Seo Grant Marine Advisory Programs. The project was funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeost Region, under Grant Number NA90AAA·FM7 40 and NA90AA-D-FM7 43. Additional support was provided by the Maryland and Virginia Seo Grant Marine Advisory Programs, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, and the University of Maryland.



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