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Virginia CZM Program: 2006 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Management Initiatives for Shellfish Aquaculture – Development of an Environmental Code of Practice and Best Management Practices for Virginia

Project Description as Proposed:

The Virginia commercial shellfish culture industry contributed over $30 million in direct sales to local economies during 2005.  Shellfish aquaculture, while positive for the economy and for ecological removal of algae from eutrophied systems can create negative ecological and aesthetic impacts if not conducted properly.  The VA CZM Program’s Seaside Heritage Program, initiated work on developing Environmental Code of Practice (ECP) and Best Management Practices (BMP) for clam farming on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  However, the culture of shellfish has been expanding beyond the Eastern Shore to include other regions within Virginia, adding new issues for inclusion within any industry ECP/BMP.  Industry input and acceptance of ECP/BMP’s is considered to be critical to the success of any developed set of guidelines.

This project will complete the development of a set of ECP/BMP’s for shellfish aquaculture, including clams, oysters and any other shellfish that are likely to be cultivated in Virginia’s waters.  In addition, as aquaculture permits are being developed, the attachment of accepted ECP/BMP’s to such permits will ensure better compliance.

In this initial year of a 2-year project, information on existing ECP/BMP’s from around the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as how these guides may be applied to permits, will be collected.  Applicability to Virginia’s shellfish aquaculture industry will be evaluated.  Additionally, since it is critical to have industry’s acceptance of these guidelines, shellfish culture industry leaders will be enlisted to assist in reviewing potential ECP/BMP’s.  These industry leaders will form the core of a second-year advisory group, along with other stakeholders, that will develop actual ECP/BMP guidelines.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Mike Oesterling; (804) 684-7165; 

Project Status:

10/1/2006 - 9/30/2007; Project Completed

Final Product Received:

DRAFT March 2008 - Best Management Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry and Environmental Code of Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry (PDF)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The primary objective for this project was to begin the development of a draft set of best Management Practices (BMPs) and an Environmental Code of Practices (ECPs) for the Virginia Shellfish aquaculture industry. This was Year 1 of a 2 year project, with year 2 funding to be used to refine the BMPs and gather more industry support, leading to industry acceptance for the BMPs. During year 1, examples of existing BMPs were obtained and reviewed for applicability to Virginia; a core of industry members was selected to assist the investigators; and first drafts of BMPs and ECPs were developed. Industry input is still being solicited and will continue during the first several months of year 2 (FY 2007)

Along with the ECP, it was suggested to incorporate and ECP “pledge” whereby Virginia shellfish growers could acknowledge their acceptance of the principles behind the ECP. At this point, there is no supporting agency or association tied to the ECP pledge.

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

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


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

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