Photos of the Long Island Sound

Research & Monitoring

Status and Trends: LISS Environmental Indicators

Oyster Harvest

CT Bureau of Aquaculture & Laboratory Services, NYSDEC Shellfish Division (* No CT data 2011-2014)

CT Bureau of Aquaculture & Laboratory Services (* No CT data 2011-2013)

NYSDEC Shellfish Division

Economic Value (CT & NY)
CT NY
1990 $22,648,802 $4,040,142
1991 $26,718,000 $2,726,272
1992 $45,000,000 $3,114,321
1993 $42,052,920 $2,195,984
1994 $35,254,916 $   766,083
1995 $41,353,180 $1,661,027
1996 $28,919,495 $3,412,656
1997 $5,103,618 $2,420,786
1998 $8,978,090 $1,319,903
1999 $1,050,000 $   367,201
2000 $4,839,468 $1,215,086
2001 $3,244,510 $2,067,914
2002 $3,012,161 $4,524,130
2003 $2,258,660 $4,028,272
2004 $1,356,310 $3,178,447
2005 $953,050 $1,853,668
2006 $2,205,740 $999,216
2007 $5,142,099 $2,265,203
2008 $6,380,933 $2,610,430
2009  $6,984,640 $1,428,015
2010  $8,010,682 $1,650,587
2011 $1,545,262
2012  — $1,747,991
2013 $3,570,461
2014 $8,292,270
2015 $4,541,304
CT Harvest (bags of oysters)
1990 380,000
1991 540,390
1992 893,964
1993 700,882
1994 705,542
1995 751,876
1996 525,809
1997 196,293
1998 179,562
1999 170,000
2000   81,015
2001   56,325
2002   32,035
2003   36,288
2004   24,116
2005   23,041
2006   52,851
2007 132,933
2008 161,305
2009 187,096
2010 220,100
2011  —
2012  —
2013
2014
2015
100 count bags
bushels 2003 and prior
NY Harvest (bushels of oysters)
1990 106,364
1991 111,131
1992 117,833
1993   74,817
1994   16,803
1995   46,463
1996   94,796
1997   69,538
1998   30,595
1999     8,426
2000   18,479
2001   31,400
2002   64,917
2003   58,653
2004   46,664
2005   27,636
2006   15,412
2007   33,822
2008   39,090
2009   15,421
2010   20,629
2011   22,075
2012   24,971
2013   55,788
2014 118,461
2015 56,517
200 count bushels

WHAT ARE OYSTERS?

The eastern oyster is a bivalve (mollusks having two hinged shells) that lives at or below tide level and are attached to rocks, pilings, and older oyster shells. The Sound was well known for its oystering trade from the 19th to the early 20th century.  The filter-feeding capacity of shellfish can help keep near shore waters clean by controlling phytoplankton abundance.

In Connecticut, oysters and clams are harvested commercially by individuals and businesses that lease shellfish beds. In New York, with the exception of one leased area inside a harbor, “baymen” can harvest shellfish at any approved waters with the proper permits, including state waters in the open area of Long Island Sound.

WHAT DOES THIS INDICATE?

The annual harvest numbers for oysters is an indicator of both oyster abundance as well as the socioeconomic importance of this species to Long Island Sound.  Since harvest is only allowed in approved waters, this indicator is also an indirect reflection of water quality in the near shore environment. This is particularly true in Connecticut where shell fishermen can only harvest on their own leased beds.

STATUS

Oystering saw a resurgence in the 1980s and 1990s due to successful oyster culture practices.  However, the large commercial oyster industry peaked in 1992 and declined mainly due to MSX, a parasitic disease. Oyster harvests began to rebound in 2006. In Connecticut this was due in part to efforts to restore and protect oyster habitats.  Since 2011, Connecticut counts have not been available (see data note), but resource managers believe that harvests are continuing to rise. From 2012 to 2014, New York’s oyster harvest increased by more than 370 percent, in part due to increased aquaculture production. There were also increased harvests  by baymen in Huntington/Northport Bays (station NS3), and Western Long Island Sound (station LS1). However, from 2014 to 2015, there was a decrease in oyster harvest, most likely due to a decrease in aquaculture harvest since they were unable to compete with the large numbers of wild oysters being sold for less.

DATA NOTE

The largest cultivated acreage producer failed to report harvest statistics from 2008 to 2010. As a result, the overall average harvest growth rate was factored into the last reported figures by the company to obtain an estimate for 2009 and 2010 harvest numbers. However, no growth rate was factored for 2008 harvest numbers.

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