Consumer seafood guide advises people to avoid Chesapeake Bay oysters. But why?

The Chesapeake Bay oyster population has been flourishing over the last few years, but a California-based seafood guide disagrees. Seafood Watch, a well-known consumer guide about sustainable seafood, has released its latest draft and is telling people to avoid eating wild caught oysters that come from the Bay.

A look at the draft shows the bay as being overfished and poorly managed, adding “current abundance levels in the Chesapeake Bay overall are still low. As a result, Seafood Watch deems eastern oyster abundance in Virginia as a ‘high’ concern.”

WTOP has reached out to the organization behind the report for comment.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is behind the guide, but declined a request for comment from the Bay Journal about the rating, saying the draft assessment may change, depending on public comment.

The public comment period ended last week.

The findings have led to some criticism from the local industry. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science told Bay Journal the draft applied an overly broad and uneven brush when rating the bay.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources also took issue with the findings, saying no one has contacted them from the aquarium about the bay’s condition, adding that the information is outdated and misinterpreted. The department stood behind the state’s oyster management, saying it’s been reviewed favorably by outside scientists.

In 2018, Seafood Watch rated oysters from Maryland and Virginia as a good choice for those looking for a sustainable option.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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