Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Watermen, Allies Attack Oyster Farming in Virginia

New shellfish farming law under attack by oyster industry

A new Virginia law designating 1,000 acres off the shores of the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula and Tangier Island for commercial shellfish farming is being challenged by members of the oyster farming industry and a state senator.

Sponsored by Del. Albert C. Pollard Jr., D-Lancaster, the law authorizes the creation of Aquaculture Opportunity Zones to promote the transition of watermen from the wild harvest of shellfish, whose populations in and around the Chesapeake Bay have suffered from pollution and disease...
 Wow, giving people the right to use a whole thousand acres (less than half a square mile) of their own Bay (we citizens technically own the Bay, in common, right?) That sure is, uh, progressive, for lack of a better word.
...Several owners of large oyster-farming operations along the Chesapeake Bay expressed their concerns to Northam and to the VMRC.

"The AOZ potentially creates an unfair advantage for any company/individual operating out of these areas," wrote Doug McMinn and Irv Spurlock, owners of the Chesapeake Oyster Company in Wake. "The AOZ allows someone to bypass all of the laws that the state has in place for properly obtaining bottom for shellfish culture."
So, creating a new mechanisms is "improper"; I don't understand, if legislators (or their administrative designates) establish procedure, why it would be improper for legislators to change, or add to those procedures.  You think maybe their trying to kill competition before it gets started?  I do.
Strickler said there are also concerns that by designating aquaculture zones, other users who might put out crab pots, fish or use a gill net might be prevented from doing so.

"One of the challenges is to try to make sure we're minimizing those kinds of conflicts … and not be at each other's throats," he said.
 "At each other's throats":  Sounds like a threat of violence to me.   I guess they can't share the bay.
Under the new law, 15 zones, mostly in bay tributaries, would be established to provide areas for aquaculture such as oyster-cage farming for Virginia residents who do not have ready access to leased oyster grounds. A one-time $100 application and use fee is charged, and applicants would be limited to 5 acres per zone.

It would also exempt users of the zones from the requirement to post notice of an application for leasing ground, the costs and requirements to have the ground surveyed, the costs of preparation and recording of the plat, and the annual payment of the $1.50 per acre in rent. Leases would not have a time limit as with regular state bottom leases that expire after 10 years.
1000 acres spread over 15 different tributaries is a going to be a serious impediment to current crabbing and oyster?  Give me a break.  It's just rent seeking...

No comments:

Post a Comment