Social Media Icons DEQ Facebook DEQ Twitter DEQ Instagram DEQ LinkedIn

Virginia Coastal Program: 2007 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Project Title:

Development of an Environmental Code of Practice and Best Management Practices for Virginia - Year 2

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/BMPs 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/BMPs 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/BMPs to such permits will ensure better compliance.

During the second year of this project, the draft ECP/BMPs developed in Year 1 will be presented to a wider audience of stakeholders. A series of public information workshops will be held in 3 areas with the most shellfish aquaculture: the Eastern Shore, Middle Peninsula, and Northern Neck. Additionally, copies of the draft ECP/BMPs will be provided to local resource managers, shellfish aquaculture practitioners, scientists and private citizens for comment. Following the information workshops and public comment period, final revisions will be made to the draft document. The final draft document will be provided to members of the shellfish culture industry for voluntary adoption. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will be provided the final document for consideration for inclusion along with shellfish culture permit requirements.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Michael Oesterling, (804) 684-7165;

Project Status:

10/01/07 - 9/30/08 - Project Completed

Final Product Received:

Environmental Code of Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry (pdf)

Best Management Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

The shellfish aquaculture industry in Virginia is continuing its expansion.  Shellfish farmers recognize their responsibilities to be good stewards of the environmental resources upon which their industry depends.  At the same time, increasing coastal development and water-related activities contribute to user conflicts and misunderstandings surrounding the culture industry.  In an effort to reduce these conflicts and better explain the shellfish culture process, an environmental code of practices (ECP) and best management practices (BMP) for the Virginia shellfish culture industry were developed by staff at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with input from members of the shellfish culture industry and other interested individuals.

After two years in development, with public input sessions and draft documents mailed to industry participants, two separate documents were created:

The first, “Environmental Code of Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry,” lays out the basic principles upon which all shellfish aquaculture should be based.  It also served as the base from which the second document was developed. 

The second document is the “Best Management Practices for the Virginia Shellfish Culture Industry.”  This document identifies area of concern and offers suggested best management practices designed to minimize environmental or societal impacts by the culture industry. 

Both the ECP and BMP received official endorsements from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the VDACS governor-appointed Aquaculture Advisory Board, and the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Aquaculture Advisory Committee.  Each document was mailed to over 125 shellfish growers, along with a cover letter encouraging the voluntary adoption of the ECP and BMP principles.  They are downloadable at the link above or on the VIMS website 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

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

Some resources on this website require Adobe Reader and Flash Player, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel. If you wish to receive this content in an accessible format pursuant to Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. ยง 794 (d)), please call 800-592-5482. In addition, this website includes hyperlinks to websites neither controlled nor sponsored by DEQ or the Commonwealth of Virginia. Links may open in a new window. If you wish to receive content from a website which is neither controlled nor sponsored by DEQ or the Commonwealth, please contact the host of that website directly.

Privacy Statement | Terms Of Use | WAI Compliance | Contact Us