"We wasted our inheritance by improvidence and mismanagement and blind confidence."
William K. Brooks, The Oyster, 1891
Vital to Commerce
For over 100 years, oysters were one of the Chesapeake Bay's most valuable commercial fisheries. Many mid-Atlantic communities built their livelihood around oysters, and the region was filled with skipjacks and shucking houses. By 1880, the Bay's oyster output exceeded the rest of the world combined.
As harvesting techniques became more efficient, and the railroad and refrigeration allowed for broader shipping, overharvesting became prevalent. Since then, the once-mighty oyster population has plummeted from the onslaught of disease, sedimentation and reduced water quality.
Vital to Culture
Following the Civil War, oysters were a valuable commodity because they were a cheap source of protein and other nutrients. Today, oysters continue to be a healthy food sources. Low in cholesterol and sodium, oysters contain high levels of zinc, an immune supporting mineral, as well as B12, iron and selenium.