Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maryland, Army, Make Oyster Farming a Little Easier

Agencies streamline oyster farm permits
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Natural Resources now have a joint state-federal permit application for potential oyster farmers. As well, the Army Corps will issue many oyster farm approvals under a new blanket permit.

New oyster farms of up to 50 acres on the bay bottom, 5 acres of cages on the bottom or 3 acres of floating cages or trays will qualify under the new permit.

The state has attempted to boost aquaculture as an attempt to revive both the Chesapeake Bay’s struggling oyster industry as well as the oysters themselves.

Maryland has long lagged behind Virginia in oyster farming.

In the past year, the state has received 38 applications for leasing nearly 1,600 acres of the bay and its rivers for aquaculture projects.
This may not be the biggest advance, but it's a significant step forward nonetheless.  The burden of convincing two or more agencies, usually sequentially that all the right ducks were in a row for a project was considerable, and having two opportunities for failure, and the likelihood of a protracted battle with bureaucracies for their permission pushing work off for another year was certainly a deterrent to potential oyster farmers in the past.  Let's hope this encourages more oyster aquaculture in Maryland's portion of the Bay.

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