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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Patent Tong

Patent tonging for oystersThe VIMS oyster Patent Tong survey, was begun in 1993 in collaboration with Dr. Jim Wesson of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Conservation and Replenishment Department to provide more quantitative estimates of oyster standing stocks in Virginia's tributaries.  This fishery-independent survey uses a quantitative sampling program at all reefs monitored using a stratified random grid with documented oyster reefs (bars) forming the strata. There are currently around 1600 stations occupied on an annual basis. Oysters are collected at each station from the 43-ft long VMRC vessel J.B. Baylor with a hydraulic patent tong. The open dimensions of the tong are such that it samples one square meter of bottom. Upon retrieval of each sample (patent tong grab) oysters are counted and measured (mm) and the volume of shell material (L) is recorded. This survey provides data in support of both management and restoration of Virginia’s oyster resource.

The VIMS Patent Tong survey was supported by funds from NOAA/Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee from 1993 through 1997. Survey results from these years were described in annual technical reports. Survey results have also been summarized for the James River (Mann et al. 2009), Great Wicomico River (Southworth et al. 2010) and Piankatank River (Harding et al. 2010). Summary and analysis of survey data from other systems is ongoing and will be added to the web site as they become available.

For more information, see Patent Tong Publications