Oyster harvest is slow; should be plenty for Urbanna Oyster Festival

by Larry Chowning

There were 80 to 100 oyster boats working Temple Bay, just west of the Robert O. Norris Jr. Memorial Bridge on the Middlesex side of the Rappahannock River on October 1, the opening day of oyster season.

On Monday of last week, there were 11 boats working the same public oyster grounds—an indication that oystering on that public rock is not good.

Temple Bay has been closed to oystering for the past three years. It was opened this year as part of Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s (VMRC) three-year rotation plan. At the start of the season, watermen had high hopes the grounds would be loaded with oysters. Unfortunately, this did not materialize.

“We are getting one live oyster to every 15 clunkers (dead oysters),” said Urbanna oysterman Lee Walton of Walton Seafood in Urbanna. “We are working all day catching about five bushels.”

VMRC regulations allow a daily limit of eight bushels per license on a boat…