Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I find permitting information?

If you are just starting out and want to navigate Virginia’s regulatory environment check out this online guide:

I want to sell direct to consumers – what do I need to do?

Shellfish harvesters are required to sell to a certified dealer.  If a harvester wants to sell direct to the public (either in person or online or to restaurants, etc) the harvester will need to apply and receive a certificate of inspection from VDH, Shellfish Safety.  In other words, the harvester will need to become a certified dealer.  There are varying levels of dealer certification with the most basic being the Shellstock Shipper (SS). Becoming a certified dealer requires planning for time and temperature controls to keep products safe from hazards and environmental bacterial growth (vibrio). Along with understanding your process, or plan (how you’ll transport, type of refrigeration for cooling, etc), there is required educational training component and a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training. Review the materials below and reach out to your local VDH DSS field office when you have an idea of what you want to do. They will work with you to finalize a sound plan and provide information on the requirements.   

For more information:

*note – Shellstock shippers (SS) and reshippers (RS) can take a local, 1-day HACCP class from VDH Shellfish Safety hosted by VIMS MAP. 

What do I do if I have an unusual mortality event?

VIMS is here to help farmers with concerns about health and shellfish disease.  VIMS’ Shellfish Pathology Laboratory will evaluate shellfish samples at no charge for industry in the event there is a health concern - contact MAP shellfish specialists for more information.  

Where do I find seed?

Virginia is home to multiple private hatchery facilities located on both the eastern and western shores.  In addition, there are many nursery sites that offer larger seed for sale.  There are several considerations when buying oyster seed including salinity, size, and strain.  This fact sheet summarizes the considerations including ordering early and reserving your order with a down payment and includes a list of local seed providers. 

BEFORE you bring in seed from other states, familiarize yourself with the importation restrictions in place for the safety (biosecurity) of the entire shellfish industry.  There are other regions with oyster diseases we don’t have and don’t want, so follow the rules.  The guidance is simple and straightforward.  If you have questions – contact the MAP shellfish specialist [[v|khudson,Karen Hudson]].