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Virginia CZM Program 2005 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:

FY2005 Task 9.04


Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Project Title:

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

Project Description as Proposed:

The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper program will continue to conduct year round on-the-water observations to investigate, assess and document citizen allegations of harmful activity, participate in the public process, and minimize the potential for conflict between aquaculture industry and shoreline residents. The Shorekeeper serves as an ombudsman for the seaside bays and provides an additional set of eyes and ears to alert the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) or other appropriate agencies on issues relating to the protection of sensitive natural resources along the Atlantic seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Shorekeeper and his cadre of volunteers will ensure oyster reef sanctuaries are protected from harvest, eelgrass beds, planted under the auspices of the Virginia Coastal Program, are not damaged and rare beach and colonial nesting birds are not disturbed. The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper program will continue to build upon education and outreach efforts in FY2004.  

In FY2005, the Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper program will conduct outreach that includes active public notification at local public boat launching points, through distribution and posting of fact sheets and other informational material, especially during peak nesting bird periods. In addition, the Creek Watchers volunteer training program will continue to recruit volunteers to broaden the number of participants involved in monitoring human impacts to sensitive Eastern Shore resources. The Shorekeeper will also continue to engage the clam aquaculture industry on ways to limit clam net litter on the seaside and reduce shallow water use conflicts.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Richard Ayers, 757.678.6182;

Project Status:

Project Completed

Final Product Received:

"Patrol Summary - Observations and Reports of Human Activity on the Atlantic Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia - 2006" (PDF)

"Discarded and Abandoned Aquaculture Clam Netting on the Atlantic Barrier Islands on the Eastern Shore of Virginia 2006" (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper is providing year-round on the water monitoring of oyster reef sanctuaries, restored eelgrass beds and seasonal nesting bird areas on the barrier islands off the Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

The monitoring effort assesses human impacts on nesting bird colonies and VCZMP funded restoration projects. The Shorekeeper's 355 boat patrol hours provided valuable observations that assisted law enforcement and island resource managers.

Aided by Creekwatchers, a Shorekeeper volunteer program, and other VCZMP partners, there has been a significant expansion in the monitoring of cumulative human impacts. Public contact and education was a key component of the effort. Boaters accessing seaside waters were frequently contacted and informed of natural resource sensitivities, island use policies and island closures. The VCZMP produced brochure titled "Life on the Beach isn't Always Easy" detailing island use policies has been a valuable public information tool.

The results of patrol observations are documented in the third year report titled, "PATROL SUMMARY; OBSERVATIONS AND REPORTS OF HUMAN ACTIVITY ON THE ATLANTIC BARRIER ISLANDS ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA". The report makes new recommendations and follows-up on 2003-04 recommendation progress. Land manager response has been positive, with many of the earlier recommendations implemented. The work has fostered a new level of discussion among land managers to address common land and resource management issues. General use policies and signage used to mark nesting areas has largely been standardized. More work is needed to address research needs and theft of oysters from restoration areas.

A final report titled; "DISCARDED AND ABANDONED AQUACULTURE CLAM NETTING ON THE ATLANTIC BARRIER ISLANDS ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA", documents the discarded and abandoned plastic aquaculture netting issue.  The data, which were collected during a three year period, continue to show an overall decline in discarded net, and its cumulative impacts to the barrier island beaches. Survey results indicated the abandoned netting was largely the result a few careless growers intentionally discarding net into the seaside waters. A productive dialogue has been established with the area's commercial clam growers. Peer pressure from larger growers and a willingness by the growers to accept the discarded net as an image problem has reduced the amount of discarded netting by 41 percent since 2003. Future work with the clam aquaculture industry will focus on adopting "Best Management Practices" and other efforts to mitigate much of the environmental impact the industry may have.

Additional information is available at

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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