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About Virginia Seafood

Quality Inspected and Fresh Everyday

Virginia’s quality control and regulatory standards for water quality and processing plants are recognized among the most stringent in the nation. Virginia’s water and product are policed by a number of regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Additionally, Virginia Tech scientists and engineers work with processors to monitor and improve control procedures in shellfish and finfish plants throughout the state.

Here are just a few facts about Virginia Seafood:

  • The Virginia seafood industry is one of the oldest industries in the United States and one of the Commonwealth’s largest. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science reported the annual economic impact to be over one half of a billion dollars.
  • Virginia is the nation’s third largest producer of marine products with total landings of over 494,028,366 million pounds in 2012 and is only out paced by Alaska and Louisiana. The dockside value to watermen alone was $191,664,734 million. We also rank as the largest seafood production state on the East Coast. Reedville, VA is the fourth largest U.S. fishing port based on landings. Hampton Roads was the seventh wealthiest seafood port in the nation.
  • Virginia’s watermen harvest 50 commercially valuable species from some 620,000 acres of water. Among these traditional species in order of economic value, are sea scallops, clams, blue crabs, flounder, croaker, striped bass, oysters, black sea bass, conch and catfish. Watermen are also harvesting more non-traditional products for the international market such as, Conch, monkfish, and Chesapeake ray.
  • Continued growth of the shellfish aquaculture industry in Virginia has added significant value to the state’s seafood marketplace. Virginia’s watermen-farmers are providing consumers with a growing quantity of hard clams and oysters that represents $36.9 million dockside value.
  • According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia continues to lead the nation in hard clam aquaculture production. Virginia aquaculture clams planted was estimated at $516 million.
  • The 2012 crop reporting survey shows that the number of clams sold or 171 million, which puts aquaculture harvests clams and oysters in 2012 to $36.3million.
  • Market oysters sold in Virginia in 2012 was 28.1 million. Total revenue for aquaculture grown oysters, not including spat on shell was $9.5 million.
  • Full time employment in the clam and oyster aquaculture industry showed increases over 2011.
  • Part time employment showed a slight increase. It is expected that with successful development of both spat on shell and clutch-less aquaculture grown oysters, that additional employment will be required for the greatly expanded planting and production needs. This information is based on a report by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
  • Today over 100,000 acres of the bay is leased for aquaculture. Virginia aquaculture growers planted nearly 66.7 million oysters in 2012.
  • Virginia is home to over 266 licensed seafood buyers in Virginia. Approximately 6,000 Virginians work on the water–2,828 licensed watermen, their mates and helpers.
  • The total industry provided approximately 11,000 full and part-time jobs for Virginians.
  • Virginia commercial watermen annually harvest enough seafood to produce over 123,000,000 meals.
  • Ninety percent of the seafood harvested in Virginia is harvested by day boats. Fish and shellfish are harvested, processed and shipped within 24 hours to domestic and international markets.
  • Based on the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science research, forty-five counties and cities in Virginia have substantial economic dependency on the seafood industry.
  • According to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services statistics, Virginia seafood exports totaled $64.1million in 2012 to 26 countries. The top countries where Virginia seafood is exported are Canada, Hong Kong, Korean Republic, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Australia, Japan, Mali, United Arab Emirates, Niger, Mexico, China, Chile, Panama, Ukraine an Netherlands.
  • Watermen and processors in Virginia work under economic conditions, environmental conditions and regulations that provide sustainable seafood for current customers and for future generations in the business. State and federal law set standards and regulations to ensure sustainable use and equitable distribution of the resource. The Potomac River Fisheries Commission, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission all manage our fisheries.
  • Virginia’s quality control and regulatory standards for water quality and processing plants are recognized among the most stringent in the nation. Virginia’s water and product are policed by a number of regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration; Department of Agriculture; Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation; and Virginia Marine Resources Commission. All plants have a HACCP-trained seafood safety inspector on staff. Additionally, Virginia Tech scientists and engineers work with processors to monitor and improve control procedures in shellfish and finfish plants throughout the state.
  • According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Americans consumed 14.4 pounds of fish and shellfish per person. Scallops, blue crabs, clams, croaker, oysters and flounder are among the “Top Ten” most popular seafood items.
  • Virginia is one of the largest US suppliers of fish oil and protein products from menhaden. This herring-like fish is found in abundant quantities in coastal waters off the US mid-Atlantic. According to the federal National Marine Fisheries Service, the nation’s menhaden resource is healthy and self-renewing. Menhaden oil, which is rich in long-chain Omega-3 essential fatty acids, is used as a food ingredient and is available in capsules as a nutritional supplement.

ABOUT THE VIRGINIA MARINE PRODUCTS BOARD

  • The Virginia Marine Products Board is the marketing arm of the seafood industry. In this capacity, the board conducts a comprehensive marketing program designed to upgrade and expand both domestic and foreign sales and markets to further the overall economic development of the industry.
  • It is an internationally recognized marketing board within the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services comprised of eleven members appointed by the Governor including representatives from large and small processing firms, the menhaden industry, commercial harvesters, wholesale/distributors and exporters.
  • All funds are received from industry license fees not from general funds of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s seafood marketing budget is approximately $270,000.
  • The board staff conducts trade advertising, direct marketing, trade shows, and international video conferences, marketing calls and merchandising programs for wholesale distributors, retailers and restaurateurs. The board has launched an in-state public education program to help the Commonwealth citizens understand the part the seafood industry plays in the state’s tradition and economy, as well as the part citizens can play in keeping Virginia’s waterways clean. The staff also maintains an up-to-date web site at www.virginiaseafood.org. We have added retail store locations in Virginia where you can purchase Virginia seafood. Also linked to our website is an Aquaculture Oysters website, where you can find the Aquaculture Growers Directory. This site averages over 11,000 hits per day from all over the world.
  • Virginia Marine Products Board has developed cooperative programs with numerous groups such as the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Wine Board, the Southern United States Trade Association, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation to open new markets and increase seafood demand without increasing costs to the board.
  • The Board’s promotional programs have earned a number of awards, including two internationally prestigious Marketing Excellence Awards from Seafood Business magazine, numerous ADDY awards and international exhibit design awards.

    Industry “firsts” have included the first point-of-purchase video for the industry, a unique seafood quality video, the first direct marketing program in the industry, the first state-branded seafood program, the first chef’s Seafood Challenge and consumer recipe contest, and the first retail value added program.

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CONTACT US

You can learn more about Virginia Seafood by contacting the Virginia Marine Products Board.

  • Street Address:
    Virginia Marine Product Board
    554 Denbigh Boulevard, Suite B
    Newport News, Virginia 23608
  • Phone:
    757-874-3474
  • Fax:
    757-886-0671
  • Web site:
    www.vaseafood.org