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Virginia oyster harvest could reach 35-year high

Posted at 12:31 PM, Mar 01, 2023

CHESAPEAKE BAY, Va. — The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) said this year's Virginia oyster harvest could be the biggest in more than three decades since the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) has extended the oyster season in certain waters.

VMRC made the decision to extend the season after learning the Commonwealth's oyster stock is at its best condition in a generation, outlined in CBF's 2022 State of the Bay report. However, CBF cautioned that increasing the oyster harvest too quickly has limited recovery in the past.

CBF said this oyster season extension will likely lead Virginia's public oyster harvest to top 300,000 bushels for the first time since the 1987-88 season.

Virginia's oyster fishery crashed after that season due to disease and overharvest, and the VMRC said it is "only recently beginning to show signs of sustained recovery."

The commission extended the oyster harvest season by two weeks in March and April, but only in portions of waterways where oyster populations are strong. That's in addition to a separate season extension the VMRC had already approved for parts of the James and Rappahannock Rivers.

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