Virginia’s Rotational-harvest Program for Oysters in Certain Areas, as of October 2011

In 2011, Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay oyster-harvest season opened October 1, and the harvest in certain areas continued a rotational system first put into place in 2007.  That system established certain zones in the Rappahannock River, Tangier Sound, and Pocomoke Sound where harvest in one year is followed by closing the zone for the next three years.  According to the Virginian-Pilot, the system was receiving credit from some watermen and state officials for an increase in Virginia’s oyster harvest from almost nothing in 2006 to 393,000 pounds in 2009, and officials with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)—which regulates oyster harvesting—are considering expanding the rotational-zone program to certain areas of the James and York rivers.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, however, have argued for Virginia not allowing harvests in areas receiving public funds for oyster restoration.  The Corps planned a two-year study (2011 to 2013) of the rotational-harvest system.  VMRC regulations on oyster-harvest restrictions are available online at http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/regulations/fr720.shtm (as of 2/14/17).

Source: Rotation system pays off with bountiful oyster harvest, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 10/18/11

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