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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Paula Hill and Steve Nelson, editors.

Publication Date


Book Title

Toward a Sustainable Coastal Watershed: The Chesapeake Experiment. Proceedings of a Conference 1-3 June 1994. Norfolk, VA


Chesapeake Research Consortium


Edgewater, MD


Chesapeake Research Consortium Publication No. 149


Between 1930 and 1939, average annual landings of Crassostrea virginica from Chesapeake Bay was 32 million pounds (meat weight). During the period 1980-88, average annual landings declined to 14.6 million pounds. In 1990, landings declined to less than 3 million pounds of meats. It has been this consistent downward trend in landings, particularly since 1983, that has concerned that National Marine Fisheries Service, various state agencies, and members of the oyster industry. In response to declining harvests, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant Program in cooperation with the National Marine Fisheries Service and various state agencies and sea grant programs developed A Plan Addressing the Restoration of the American Oyster Industry. The plan recommends that roughly $3 million annually allocated between 1991 and 1995 for research dedicated to restoring the oyster industry. A proposed $15 million budget raises two important issues that must be addressed: (1) should the industry be revitalized, and (2) if so, what needs to be done. In this paper, we offer that revitalization depends upon the marketability of oysters. A nationwide survey of wholesalers conducted in 1992 suggests that consumer demand for oysters has dramatically declined. Alternatively, oysters may be nearing the end of their product life cycle or going the way of the Edsel, IBM personal computer, or Yugo. Industry revitalization efforts, therefore, must be closely linked to, at least, a generic marketing campaign directed at restoring consumer confidence in oyster products. We conclude, however, that resource enhancement efforts based on bio-remediation goals (enhancing water quality and decreasing the population of jellyfish) may be warranted, and enhancement activities rather than industry revitalization efforts should be the focus of a national research program.

Economic Aspects Of The Chesapeake Bay Oyster Fishery: Problems And The Future Or Should The Industry Be Revitalized?