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The shellfish industry benefits all of us. It even helps the environment!

The shellfish culture industry of Virginia provides a significant economic benefit to the Commonwealth, with an annual dockside value of $65-million and a total impact well over $100-million. With a majority of shellfish culture sales occurring outside the state, the shellfish culture industry is generating “new” money and not just circulating in-state revenues. The shellfish culture industry is proud of our contributions to the economy of the Commonwealth, but is equally proud of our environmental benefits as well. Shellfish culture is truly a “green” industry, with our crops continually helping to clean the Chesapeake Bay by removing excess nutrients and providing habitat for other species. Virginia ranks as the top producer of clams in the United States and is first on the east coast for oyster production.

Total dockside value for shellfish in Virginia in 2020 equaled $65,000,000 (VMRC data). Virginia's commercial watermen annually harvest enough seafood to produce over 123,000,000 meals.  Oysters and clams are the at the top of the list of most consumed Virginia produced seafood.

There were 134 active aquaculture oyster farms in Virginia in 2018 (compared to only 60 in 2013). Spat-on-shell production exceeded 42,600 bushels, for another $2,000,000 in farm gate value.

There are 4,889 leases that comprise approximately 134,200 acres of leased shellfish grounds in the state.
• Virginia shellfish hatcheries sold 2,900,000,000 oyster larvae for extensive spat-on-shell production and over 264,000,000 individual oyster seed.

Aquaculture Landings per the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (2021)

Species              Poundage        Dollar Value

Eastern Oyster  2,588,785           $21,910,059.54

Hard Clam         3,642,861           $31,872,910.86
• Shellfish aquaculture employs hundreds of full and part time workers.
• Cultured shellfish improve the environment by providing habitat for other species and removing nutrients from the water by incorporating them into their shells and tissue.


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