Problems of the Oyster Shucking Industry in Chesapeake Bay



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Virginia-Maryland Bi-State Working Committee on the Chesapeake Bay


The ad-hoc task force on oyster shucking has reviewed the problems associated with mechanizing and automating the shucking of oysters through a review of the literature on design and performance of various machines and through extensive discussions with industry and technical personnel. We found that there are some improvements of the shucking process that have made the industry more efficient and that there are a number of devices in various stages of development short of commercial use. There is a problem facing the oyster industry with a shortage of skilled shuckers and unavailability of a labor pool willing or able to learn the shucking trade. The following recommendations were developed. A. It is recommended that the Bi-State Committee take active notice of the serious problems facing the oyster shucking industry and provide long term technological assistance through existing institutions and agencies. B. It is recommended that industry be strongly encouraged to undertake major revisions to the shucking labor force to upgrade the status of this profession, through efforts such as providing a more appealing work place, and introducing appropriate technological advances. To support this, states should through the use of available resources enhance the perception of oyster shucking as a profession. C. It is recommended that industry be encourage to increase the use of steam assisted shucking in these areas where shucking capacity does not meet the industry demands. It is further recommended that state agencies and institutions in Maryland make introduction and use of this system a high priority. D. We recommend that present state technical assistance programs maintain a continued interest in the topic of mechanical shucking and ensure that any improvements take place within a total systems approach to the problem. We recommend no state funding for specific systems at this time. E. We recommend that Bi-State agencies and institutions take immediate steps to review existing regulations and restrictions which might be inhibiting technological improvements to more efficient oyster shucking, in cooperation with industry initiatives for modernization. F. Finally, we recommend that the state agencies in Maryland and Virginia and the Bay oyster industry develop standards that will improve oyster products from the Bay and that the states take the lead in having these standards accepted nationally.


26 pages; available for download at the link below.


oyster shucking, Chesapeake Bay, oysters