RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that November is Virginia Oyster Month. Visitors and Virginians alike are encouraged to experience the fresh wild-caught and farm-raised oysters from Virginia’s seven different oyster regions throughout the month of November, as well as participate in the numerous oyster festivals and events around the Commonwealth.
Virginia oysters have diverse flavors from the saltiest in the waters of Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to the sweet taste of Rappahannock River oysters and the rebirth of Lynnhaven oysters in Virginia Beach. This diversity gives visitors a lot to love about oyster travel in Virginia.
“Virginia oysters are the best in the world, and they play an increasingly important role in growing our economy and keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean,” said Governor McAuliffe. “My team and I are working hard to make Virginia the Oyster Capital of the East Coast, and I hope Virginians will join us by enjoying local, fresh and delicious Virginia oysters during the month of November.”
Virginia’s oyster harvest increased by 25% from 2012 to 2013, with more than 500,000 bushels – the most in nearly a generation. Over the past 12 years, the oyster harvest in Virginia has increased from approximately 23,000 bushels in 2001 to last year’s level of just over 500,000 – the highest level since 1987. The dockside value alone of the oyster harvest is 2013 was more than $22 million, up from approximately $16 million in 2012.
“Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia, and the continued growth of the oyster industry, combined with private sector investment, positively impacts the tourism industry in the Chesapeake Bay region and the Commonwealth,” said Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “In 2013, visitors spent $21.5 billion, supporting 213,000 jobs and contributing $1.4 billion in state and local taxes. Marketing Virginia as an oyster destination will help us attract more of those visitors and continue to help our economy grow.”
“The oyster industry plays a significant role in Virginia’s recognized position of being the nation’s third largest producer of marine products and, the leading seafood producer on the East Coast,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “In addition to the domestic impact of our marine products sector on the tourism and agricultural industries, we’re proud of the successes we’ve had in promoting Virginia oysters on international trade missions, where we’ve generated new export sales to China, Hong Kong and Canada. These deals and others we hope to help achieve will help generate business and attention for Virginia’s thriving oyster industry.”
In August 2014, Governor McAuliffe announced the development of the Virginia Oyster Trail, a major tourism development project connecting travelers to Virginia oyster purveyors, raw bars and restaurants, and the watermen culture throughout Coastal Virginia, the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and the Eastern Shore. As a result of these exciting developments with the Virginia oyster, Governor McAuliffe officially declared November as Virginia Oyster Month and named Virginia the “Oyster Capital of the East Coast.”
“By pairing Virginia oysters with other Virginia products including wine, craft beer, cider and spirits, travelers can experience the state with taste,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Oysters only add to the impressive list of things Virginia has to offer.”
For a list of Oyster Month festivals and events around the state, go to virginia.org/OysterFestivals
For more about Virginia oysters, go to virginia.org/oysters