A new oyster partnership in Virginia will bring watermen, scientists, businesses and citizens together to help restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters while creating jobs at the same time.
The Oyster Company of Virginia (OCVA) will train watermen to become oyster farmers and equip them with cages, oyster seed and other supplies to raise oysters on leased areas of the Bay’s bottom. The watermen will be paid to plant the oyster seed, then harvest and sell the adult oysters.
To help pay for the project, citizens and businesses can join OCVA at a cost of $175 per oyster cage. Members will be able to follow online the status of the cages they fund.
OCVA hopes another aspect of the project – building artificial oyster reefs in sanctuaries that are protected from harvest – will eventually remove enough nitrogen from the Bay to become part of a nutrient trading program to meet pollution reductions needed for the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
The OCVA formed in August in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. OCVA founding members, which include representatives from the Virginia Watermen’s Association, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Company, hope to lead Virginia away from purchasing the majority of its oyster supply from the Gulf of Mexico and toward restoring the Virginia oyster industry and the health of the Bay.
For more information, visit the Oyster Company of Virginia’s website at www.oysterva.com.