Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Proceedings of the National Shellfisheries Association



First Page


Last Page



North of Chesapeake Bay, one of the foremost problems of oyster planters, is to obtain a regular supply of seed oysters; to·the south, the problem becomes one of how to handle an overly abundant set.· Virginia is the most northerly state with an adequate supply of seed oysters, and setting should not be a problem. The natural set will suffice if proper steps are taken to catch and utilize it. We are most fortunate in Virginia in having a consistent set of moderate' intensity resulting in high quality seed oysters. At present only the best seed oysters; those from the James River, are being used; a large portion of these are wasted, almost deliberately, by sacrificing them to predators.

The public oyster grounds include most of the natural oyster beds. Being hard shelly bottoms with a natural set, many of these are being put to their best use as seed oyster grounds. Private grounds, often lacking in natural set, or with the set destroyed by predation, are usually suitable for growth-and-fattening only. While the logical procedure is to move oysters from public seed grounds to private growing grounds, in practice only the James River is used as a seed area. Tributaries, such as the Corrotoman and Piankatank Rivers, which would make good seed areas,_despite poor growth are used as growing and fattening grounds. Other public grounds, such as the Rappahannock River, have rather poor setting and oysters are sparse. The first studies of oyster setting in Virginia waters were made by Loosanoff in 1931. From 1940 to 1945, Menzel, Hopkins, and Mackin collected some records. In the past eight years fairly intensive records of setting and survival have been collected from the three major tributaries in Virginia, the James, York, and Rappahannock Rivers.