Virginia Oyster Industry In Trouble
A new report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science estimates the Deep Horizon Gulf oil spill will cost Virginia’s oyster industry almost 12 million dollars a year in direct economic loss. As Charles Fishburne reports, it comes at a critical time in the industry’s efforts to rebuild.
The fact is, Gulf oysters had been keeping the Virginia industry alive.
Murray: The imported product, from the Gulf in particular, has been the mainstay for a lot of the processors, who shuck the product and turn it into various market product.
Tom Murray is Marine Business Specialist at VIMS and co-author of the study that says the oil spill has shut it down.
Murray: Hundreds of thousands of bushels of shell-on oysters were no longer available.
Native Virginia oysters have been decimated by disease and overharvesting, but local processors and packers have managed to stay alive, using the Gulf oysters while they try to cultivate new methods and hardier strains for Virginia waters.
Murray: Some of our oyster processors have said if this had happened five years from now, it wouldn't be nearly as critical because we are making those advances I mentioned.
Murray says unless shipments of Gulf oysters resume quickly, our local oyster industry may not be able to sustain itself.
Murray: We're at a crossroads.
Charles Fishburne, WCVE News