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Oyster prices plummet as diners stay home amid pandemic

With several hours of daylight to spare, Ronnie Robbins and his son, Jason, had already docked their 36-foot deadrise workboat on Hooper’s Island and started unloading their briny cargo.

Into the bed of a waiting pickup went 20 bushels of oysters dredged from the bottom of the Honga River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Once again, they’d handily harvested all they were allowed by the state to take in a day.

“It’s better than it’s been in years before, that’s for sure,” the elder Robbins said.

Even so, he and others who make a living off the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters have been struggling this fall and winter.

It isn’t a supply problem. Watermen in Maryland and Virginia alike say they are having no trouble landing their daily wild oyster quotas. Oyster farmers in both states also say they’ve raised bumper crops of the bivalves in leased patches of the bay and its tributaries.

“We got lots of oysters, and they’re excellent quality,” said Bill Sieling, executive vice president...

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