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Virginia leads in clam and oyster aquaculture

Staff writer ▼ | April 14, 2016
Virginia shellfish farmers sold $48.3 million in clams and oysters in 2015, according to the Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report.
Seafood trade   Hard clam sales were $32.3 million
Hard clam sales were $32.3 million - once again leading the nation - and $16 million in oyster sales tops among East Coast states.

The latest report is based on an industry survey completed during the first quarter of 2016 and was conducted by the Marine Advisory Services program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Report co-author Karen Hudson says, “Virginia growers planted 135.6 million single oysters in 2015, a 27% increase from 2014 and right on target with grower expectations from the previous survey. Their outlook for 2016 suggests a further 14% increase in planted oysters.”

Although the number of oysters sold decreased by 11% in 2015 compared to the previous year - from 39.8 million to 35 million – Ms Hudson and co-author Tom Murray don’t see great significance in the drop.

“We’re more interested in long-term trends than any single year-to-year variations,” says Ms Hudson. Mr Murray notes that oyster growers remain optimistic, with survey respondents predicting a 32% increase in numbers sold in the coming year, which if reached would translate to nearly 47 million market oysters.

The number of hard clams sold in Virginia in 2015 also decreased—to 185 million from the previous year’s all-time record of 243 million - but growers reported a 7% increase in the number of clams planted, and predict an additional 2% increase in plantings for the coming year. Virginia remains the nationwide leader in growing hard clams.

The 2015 results are drawn from 79 completed surveys returned to VIMS. Respondents include 15 clam growers, 66 intensive oyster growers, seven extensive oyster growers, five shellfish hatcheries, and nine growers who cultured both molluscs.