Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Molluscan Ecology Program
Virginia Marine Resource Report No. 92-5
Oysters have been harvested from Virginia waters as long as humans have inhabited the area. Depletion of natural stocks in the late 1880's led to the establishment of regulations by public fisheries agencies. A survey of bottom areas in which oysters grew naturally was completed in 1896 under the direction of Lt. Baylor, USN. These areas (over 243,000 acres) were set aside by legislative action for public use and have come to be known as the Baylor Survey Grounds or Public Oyster Grounds of Virginia, and are presently administered by VMRC, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (Haven et al., 1978). Since 1960, oyster production from public shoals has declined dramatically, as shown in Figure 1. Two oyster pathogens, Perkinsus marinus (Dermo) and Haplosporidium nelsoni (MSX) have decimated stocks in the higher salinity regions (>15ppt) of Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries (Hargis and Haven, 1988). Thus much of the public oyster ground is non-productive and the small portion that remains productive is being intensely harvested (Barber and Mann, 1990). Twice a year the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) conducts a survey of selected public oyster bars (shoals) in Virginia waters for the purpose of assessing the status of the resource. Surveys conducted in the spring concentrate on grounds that are currently productive and provide information about overwinter mortality and relative fishing pressure from the current harvesting season1 • surveys conducted in the fall cover a larger area and provide information about spatfall or recruitment, summer (disease) mortality, and the status of each shoal as a source of seed or market oysters prior to the beginning of the harvesting season. This report summarizes the findings of the Spring 1992 Oyster Shoal Survey, conducted between 11 and 14 May, 1992.
Oyster fisheries--Chesapeake Bay (Va.), Oyster--Monitoring, Oyster fisheries--Virginia, Oysters--Chesapeake Bay (Va.)
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Barber, B. J. (1992) Public Oyster Shoal Survey - Spring 1992. Virginia Marine Resource Report No. 92-5. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. https://doi.org/10.21220/V5TW3X