Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Virginia Journal of Science
As the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery made their way through Hampton Roads and up the James River toward Jarnestown in 1607, they traversed a 15-mile stretch of water that was to play an important part in the history and economy of Virginia. Beneath these pleasant waters, and sometimes forming reefs that were awash at low tide, lay the most prolific natural oyster beds in the world. Three hundred and fiftv years later these grounds still provide the seed that makes Virginia's oyster industry supreme, producing about one-quarter of the nation's supply of these delicious mollusks.
Had they been free to harvest at will the oysters and other seafoods that were so abundant round these shores, the colonists might have escaped some of the dietary troubles that contributed to their hardships. But ignorance, lack of self-interest, and other things conspired to deny these benefits to them. Today, though ignorance and self-interest still hamper the full utilization and management of these resources, we can see ever-increasing improvement. Despite dire predictions to the contrary, these resources have continued to renew themselves, and there is no reason why they should not do so forever if exploited wisely.
Virginia Fisheries Laboratory Contribution No. 70.
Mchugh, J. L. and Bailey, Robert S., "History of Virginia's Commercial Fisheries: neglected historical records throw light on today's problems" (1957). VIMS Articles. 1356.