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Virginia CZM Program 2006 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Marine Resource Commission

Project Title:

Seaside Heritage Program - Oyster Reef Restoration

Project Description as Proposed:

Oyster reefs will be constructed in association with eelgrass restoration projects. Reef restoration and eelgrass planting efforts have been very encouraging for the past 5 years, especially, in the Cobb Island and South Bay areas of Northampton County. For FY 06, oyster reefs will be constructed in South Bay or Magothy Bay in Northampton County.

Small fringing reefs along small channels will be the focus for FY 06. The small fringing reefs tend to be located on bottom that is relatively soft compared to areas normally planted with shells. Conch shells are available from a shucking house in Oyster, Virginia. These shells are large and can be deployed on softer bottom than the smaller, dredged fossil shells that are used on Seaside. Small fringing reefs are generally 250 to 200' in length, are intertidal, and follow the contours of the channel edges. Shell costs will be approximately $1.70 per bushel. At the completion of the project, 10 to 15 new fringing reefs will have been constructed. All reef building activity will occur between April and July 2007. Reefs will be monitored for spatset in the fall of 2007.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

James A. Wesson, 757.247.2121;

Project Status:

4/1/2006 - 9/30/2007; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Seaside Heritage Program: Oyster Reef Restoration FY '06 Final Report - (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

Oyster reefs were constructed along Running Channel within Public Ground No. 27 in South Bay, Northampton County.  A total of 2.93 acres of fringing oyster reefs were created with 43,871 bushels of conch and dredged fossil shells using CZM funding. The coordinates for this reef were from approximately 37 16’ 21”, 75 51’ 02” to 37 16’ 18”, 75 51’ 01”. An additional 3.04 acres of oyster reefs with 59,169 bushels of dredged fossil shells were completed with VMRC State funding. These reefs followed along the west side of the channel from approximately  37 16” 35”, 75 51’ 13” to 37 16’ 15”, 75 51” 04”  The entire 5.97 acres has been set aside and marked as oyster sanctuary areas with “No Harvest” and “Seaside Heritage Program” signage.

Spatsets were excellent on all of Seaside in 2007.  Generally, if spatsets are greater than 1,000 oysters per meter on Seaside, they are considered “excellent”. The reefs were monitored in November 2007, and spatsets averaged 1,331 spat per meter on the Running Channel reef sites.

Fifty multicolor, plastic signs were purchased which will identify the Seaside Heritage Program reef sites.  These signs have been placed on all of the Seaside Heritage Program sites in Northampton and Accomack Counties.

Poaching on sanctuary reef sites continues to be a problem.  New regulations to license aquaculturists and people who work on private grounds have been implemented by VMRC, and penalties for harvesting on sanctuaries have been made more severe.  Along with the improved signage, these measures should moderate the poaching to some degree.

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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