RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently announced that Governor Glenn Youngkin has proclaimed November as Virginia Oyster Month in recognition of the work of oyster farmers, or watermen, across the commonwealth.

According to a release from the Department, Virginia is the largest oyster producer on the East Coast of the United States, and the average dockside value for the state’s wild and farmed oysters is approximately $40 million a year.

“The Virginia oyster industry is one of the longest-standing industries in the state. From providing bountiful meals for Virginia’s first inhabitants, the industry thrives today with jobs for many Virginia families which helps to support local economies,” said Matthew Lohr, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.

Oysters are an important part of the state’s Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Since one adult oyster can purge up to 50 gallons of water a day, oyster farming — also known as aquaculture — reduces harvest pressure on wild oysters and improves water cleanliness to help sustain other forms of marine life, the Department’s statement said.

“Virginia produces the best oysters in the world, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the commercial watermen harvesting the public ground oysters, and the farmers on the aquaculture side growing oysters,” the Department’s commissioner Joseph Guthrie said in the release. “The Eastern oyster, also known as the Virginia oyster, is not only a delicious food but also an important filter for the Chesapeake Bay.”

According to the Department, oysters from each of Virginia’s eight different production regions have their own unique taste. The state’s tidal waters also influence the flavors of an oyster from the same location throughout the year.

For more information about oyster farming in Virginia, visit here.