While each of the roughly 250 species of fish and shellfish in the Bay plays a unique role in the ecosystem, several species stand out for their ecological, historical, and/or commercial and recreational importance. These species include:
Together with partners in resource management and research, NOAA focuses on developing and providing science to support sustainable management of these key species.
NOAA maintains similar information about fishery species and facts about seafood from across the country through FishWatch.
The six species/groups listed above include the four most valuable fisheries in the Bay: blue crab, Eastern oyster, striped bass, and Atlantic menhaden. The graph below shows the estimated value of commercial landings for those fisheries for Maryland and Virginia combined (data from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Commercial Fisheries Statistics). These figures are for the two states in which the seafood was landed, so they may include harvest from outside the Chesapeake Bay (because Maryland and Virginia also have waters along the Atlantic Coast). A valuable fishery that is strictly coastal is sea scallops; it was left out of this graph because it has no Chesapeake landings.