NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP/WBOC)- While still a fraction of historic highs, Virginia's oyster harvest last year was the best since the mid-1980s.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe released numbers Tuesday showing a 24 percent increase in 2014 in the oyster harvest. Bushels harvested topped 659,000.
That's in sharp contrast to the 24,000 bushels recorded in 2003, but also to the 4 million bushels hauled from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the late 1950s.
“This level of oyster harvest success was virtually inconceivable a decade ago, but we need to be mindful that oysters live in an ever-changing ecosystem and oysters remain susceptible to disease and other environmental factors outside of our control,’’ said Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner John M.R. Bull.
The dockside value of the oyster harvest increased to $33.8 million in 2014.
The 2014 harvest from privately leased water bottoms totaled 375,000 bushels. The remainder was from wild harvests off public water bottoms.
The harvest numbers were released one day after the state launched the Virginia Oyster Trail.
Virginia's history of oyster harvests can be found here: http://www.mrc.state.va.us/SMAC/VA-Oyster-Harvests.pdf