Secretary of Natural Resources convenes work group to promote Virginia clam, oyster economy

virginiaToday, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler convened the Oyster Aquaculture Work Group to develop consensus-based recommendations to promote the sustainable growth of Virginia’s clam and oyster aquaculture industries. The work group is comprised of leaders from the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, as well as diverse representatives from the shellfish industry, local governments, waterfront property owners, and the conservation community.

“Today’s Chesapeake Bay is a new experience to a generation that has known only polluted waters and lost aquatic productivity,” said Governor Northam in remarks to the Oyster Aquaculture Work Group during their first meeting. “With a healthier Bay, we now have the challenge of managing the many competing uses of the Bay and our rivers—whether that’s farming oysters and clams, providing access for recreational boaters, rebuilding our underwater grasses, or respecting the rights of waterfront property owners. My Administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to finally resolve user conflicts and to grow the Bay economy.”

Virginia’s environment and economy are benefiting from improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, its tidal tributaries, Virginia’s Potomac River tributaries, and the Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Underwater grasses are more abundant; recreational enjoyment is on the rise; waterfront properties boost local government coffers; and the oyster industry is experiencing substantial regrowth.

Virginia is well positioned to promote further, sustainable growth of its clam and oyster economy by virtue of the extensive work being done to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution across the Commonwealth and by local governments and federal partners, private businesses, and many farmers.

The work group will focus their efforts on finding solutions to conflicts between shellfish growers and other uses, namely waterfront property owners, boaters and local governments. The work group will also explore how best to balance the shellfish economy with continued growth of underwater grasses. Members of the work group are tasked with providing recommendations to Secretary Strickler.

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