Despite decades of rebuilding efforts, the population of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay has fallen to historically low levels. We develop a novel bioeconomic model which includes the value of ecological services provided by oysters in situ to determine the optimal length of a harvest moratorium and a subsequent harvest rate that will maximize the net present value of the oyster resource. Not surprisingly, steady-state stocks and optimal harvest rates are increasing and decreasing in ecological service values, respectively. The results also suggest that instituting a harvest moratorium and limiting harvest effort in the fishery can increase the net present value of the resource more than effort limitation alone.
JEL Classification Codes: Q22, Q57, H41