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Virginia continues to lead in clam and oyster aquaculture


virginiaAccording to the 2015 Virginia Shellfish Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Report issued this month, Virginia shellfish producers sold $48.3 million in clams and oysters last year. Virginia’s hard clam sales of $32.3 million once again led the nation, while its $16 million in oyster sales is the front-runner among East Coast states.

The report provides an assessment of trends and projections in Virginia’s shellfish industry.

Although the number of oysters sold decreased by 11 percent in 2015 compared to the previous year—from 39.8 million to 35 million—report co-author Karen Hudson doesn’t see great significance in the drop.

“We’re more interested in long-term trends. The report is intended to track trends; a decrease in one year doesn’t constitute a trend. With continued upward trends across the board, ups and downs are to be expected,” Hudson said.

The number of hard clams sold in Virginia in 2015 also decreased—to 185 million from 2014’s all-time record of 243 million. But growers reported a 7 percent increase in the number of clams planted and predict an additional 2 percent increase in plantings for the coming year.

Spencer Neale, vice president of commodity marketing for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, said the state’s cultured shellfish industry “continues to be a shining star of Virginia’s diversified agriculture. While both clams and oysters took a dip in overall sales in 2015, the long-running strength of our clam aquaculture industry coupled with tremendous growth of cultured oysters over the past several years reflects a part of Virginia’s agriculture that is robust.”

Now in its 10th year, the report is conducted by the Marine Advisory Services program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. It is available online atwww.vims.edu/research/units/centerspartners/map/aquaculture/docs_aqua/MRR2016-4.pdf.



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