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. A recent Virginia Marine Products Board study conducted by the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center reported the annual economic impact to be over one billion dollars.
- Virginia is the nation’s fourth largest producer of marine products with total landings of 321,860,722 pounds in 2020 and is only out paced by Alaska, Louisiana, and Oregon. The dockside value to watermen alone was $214,430,986. We also rank as the largest seafood production state on the East Coast. As of 2019 Reedville, VA is the fourth largest U.S. fishing port based on landings and Hampton Roads was the seventeenth 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 Oysters, Blue Crab, Sea Scallops, Menhaden, Clams, Summer Flounder, Striped Bass, Spot, Black Sea Bass, and Blue Catfish. Watermen are also harvesting more non-traditional products for the international market such as Eel, Monkfish, and Illex Squid.
- 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 over $53 million dockside value
- According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia continues to lead the nation in hard clam aquaculture production. Virginia aquaculture grown clams reported that 503.7 million Clams were planted in 2018. According to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Virginia is first on the east coast of the U.S. for Eastern Oyster production. Market oysters sold in Virginia in 2018 was 32.1 million. Full time and part time employment in the clam and oyster aquaculture industry is estimated at 600. 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.
- Virginia is home to over 248 licensed seafood buyers in Virginia. Approximately 6,000 Virginians work on the water-2,866 licensed watermen, their mates and helpers.
- 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 Service’s statistics, Virginia seafood exports totaled $40.57 million in 2019 to 20 countries. The top countries where Virginia seafood is exported are France, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, United Kingdom, China and Germany. The total industry provided approximately 11,000 full and part-time jobs for Virginians.
- 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 19 pounds of fish and shellfish per person. Menhaden, Oysters, Sea Scallops, Clams, Blue Crabs, Striped Bass, Flounder, Blue Catfish, Black Sea Bass and Spiny Dogfish were the “Top Ten” most popular seafood items in 2019.
- 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.