Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Extensive description of the Virginia oyster resource and history of its utilization has been given by Haven, Hargis and Kendall (1981), and more recently reviewed by Hargis and Haven (1988). These contributions, among many others, describe a state of continuing decline. The James River, Virginia has served as the focal point for the Virginia oyster industry for over a century, being the source of the majority of seed oysters that were transplanted for grow-out to locations within the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay and much further afield in the Middle Atlantic states (Haven et al, 1981 ). The Rappahannock River in Virginia was, for many years, a source of large and valued oysters for both the shucking and half shell trade. It is surprising that comparatively little effort has been previously expended to estimate standing stock in both the James and Rappahannock Rivers given the acknowledged need for such data in fishery management. Continuing losses of productive oyster reef over the past three decades to Haplosporidium nelsoni, commonly known as MSX, and Perkinsus marinus, commonly known as "Dermo", in the higher salinity regions of both rivers, combined \vith increased fishing pressure on all remaining stocks, have emphasized the need for wodcing estimates of standing stock. This need has been further exaggerated in the James River by a change in emphasis in the past decade from the harvesting of "seed" oysters to larger "market" oysters, and the reduction in size limit of the latter from three to two-and-one-half inches maximum dimension (although this action was reversed with an increase in minimum market size to three inches for the 1994-1995 season). The fishery continues to exploit the limited remaining broodstock from the James River in order to retain a viable fishery for" market" oysters, while simultaneously threatening the long term future of the river as the only functional seed producing location in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay. (more...)


Report for the period October I, 1994 -September 30, 1995 Submitted to: The Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee



Oyster populations -- Virginia; Oyster fisheries -- Virginia



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