Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Journal of Shellfish Research
After 1885 Virginia's lower Chesapeake Bay system produced more oysters per year than any other area in the United States and remained predominant until 1960. Since then she has surrendered supremacy as annual harvests of her troubled oyster industry have steadily declined. Numerous factors were responsible for the tremendous productivity of the lower Bay's oyster beds; a number have been involved in its decline. Natural events, such as the catastrophic epizootics of the early 1960's, continuing disease and predation, increased salinities of drought years and great freshets of tropical storms have contributed significantly to the reduction. Pollution and other man-related alterations have been involved also. Additionally, high costs of money and operations, risk-reduction efforts, loss of competitive position and markets, and, in some problem areas, lack of certain important scientific knowledge have contributed. Persistent overfishing by public harvesters, lack of application of best-management practices and recent technological advances, reduction of planting efforts by private growers, and resistance to remedial improvements by industry and public managers are the major factors causing the continuing decline! Nevertheless, restoration of oyster production in Virginia (and Maryland) waters can be accomplished by applying a combination of currently available scientific knowledge and technological skills and by making or enabling sociological, economic and political improvements.
Oyster industry, biological restoration, economic rehabilitation, Virginia, lower Chesapeake Bay
Hargis, William J. Jr. and Haven, Dexter S., Rehabilitation Of The Troubled Oyster Industry Of The Lower Chesapeake Bay (1988). Journal of Shellfish Research, 7(2), 271-279.