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Virginia Coastal Program: 2009 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission

Project Title:

Shellfish Aquaculture and Working Waterfront Infrastructure: Mathews County Phase 2

Project Description as Proposed:

Mathews County Phase 2: Shellfish aquaculture and related working waterfront infrastructure is a complex economic, environmental, land and water resource issue. As many coastal localities struggle with becoming less rural and more suburban, balancing growth, preserving coastal character and culture, and the delivery of public services form the basis for a local public policy conundrum.

The community leaders of Mathews County (like many rural coastal local governments) continue to articulate and discuss the following public policy question: “to what extent will our future economic fabric rely on the opportunities presented from a coastal environment and what public policies will govern such opportunities.” Phase 2 of this project proposes to identify and articulate specific enforceable policy recommendations to help sustain and expand shellfish aquaculture-working waterfront infrastructure as an economic factor within Mathews County. If local government is to develop new public policy to support and sustain shellfish aquaculture-working waterfront infrastructure, tradeoffs will have to be made. For this project, we propose the following:

1) Work with the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to design and discuss specific policy strategy and adaptation to strengthen the aquaculture industry and sustain working waterfront infrastructure.

a. Discussion of specific policy recommendations from the York River Use Conflict Management project NA07NOS4190178 Task 93.01

b.Assist with the implementation of specific recommendations from NA07NOS4190178 Task 93.01

2) Explore possible new policy strategies and initiatives to strengthen the shellfish aquaculture industry and sustain working waterfront infrastructure such as the concept of Mathews County establishing a shellfish aquaculture business incubator and a maritime “in water” business park:

a.Shellfish aquaculture business incubator-“in water” maritime business park

1.Assess and discuss “onshore” public and private support infrastructure needs (benefits and barriers of supporting land uses, access ramp, docks, off loading, processing, maintenance, fuel, etc.);

2.Explore shellfish aquaculture business incentives for business relocation, and establishment;
3.Identify and discuss tradeoffs associated with personal property, real property, business receipts, taxing structure and policy;

4.Consider the types of public shellfish aquaculture infrastructure and support services offered in the park;

5.Explore innovative shellfish aquaculture financing options and insurance issues;

6.Explore tax rebates for sea calming device relying on shellfish aquaculture infrastructure (portable revetment);

7.Explore the concept of establishing a shellfish aquaculture nutrient trading bank; and

8.Explore the concept of additional land use buffering requirements around ancillary land uses degrading water quality. Include a discussion of what is more important from a policy perspective (ancillary uses of land versus shellfish aquaculture).

b.Mathews County Public Shellfish Aquaculture “alternative use” areas. Consider establishing strategically located “alternative use” high water quality relocation areas should water quality violations occur at small shellfish aquacultures sites. Local businesses need a “shellfish aquaculture relocation site” for temporary industry crises.

1.Review of spatial location of existing industry

2.Work with VMRC on available lease areas

3.Lease and map “alternative use” zones

4.Discuss policy-action alternatives.

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Jackie Rickards, (804) 758-2311;

Project Status:

10/1/09 - 9/30/10; Project completed

Final Product Received:

Shellfish Aquaculture and Working Waterfront Infrastructure: Mathews County Phase II (pdf)

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

As many coastal localities struggle with becoming less rural and more suburban, balancing growth, preserving coastal character and culture, and the delivery of public services, forms the basis for a local public policy conundrum. However amidst such changes, Mathews County has articulated a strong desire to preserve their working waterfront heritage, while exploring and encouraging the expansion of aquaculture within their County.
Therefore over the last two years Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission (MPPDC) staff have worked closely Mathews County Planning Staff as well as aquaculture and working waterfront industry members to gain an understanding of current aquaculture and working waterfront challenges specific to Mathews County. Through the creation and assistance of an Aquaculture Working-Waterfront Steering Committee, consisting of aquaculture and working waterfront industry participants public policy solutions were developed to ease these challenges, and yet provide Mathews County with options to support and enhance aquaculture and working waterfronts in the county.
To continue to explore and develop public policy options for Mathews County, in phase II of this project, MPPDC staff focused efforts on developing the concept and framework of an in-the-water public aquaculture business park and relay areas. In general, the park and relay areas could be utilized by current aquaculture industry members, as well as hobby gardeners and entrepreneurs entering the industry. To gain local support and feedback, MPPDC staff presented these concepts to the Mathews County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) as well as to the Aquaculture Working-Waterfronts (AWW) Steering Committee. The IDA responded positively to the idea and passed a resolution to support future MPPDC staff efforts in this project, while the AWW Committee provided essential local and industry feedback as to the ideal locations for the park as well as potential services that could be offered at the park. Finally, in conjunction with community support, the passing of HB 138 will allow the development of Aquaculture Opportunity Zones (VAC 28.2-602) and will ease permitting obstacles for the Mathews County In-the-water Aquaculture Park. To-date the Mathews County Board of Supervisors have not taken policy action(s) concerning the business park ,however with their support MPPDC staff continues to work with Virginia Marine Resource Commission to establish Aquaculture Opportunity Zones in the waters Mathews County.
Additionally Mathews County has recently updated the County's Comprehensive Plan. As a document that provides guidelines for decisions related to land use, the current draft plan includes 135 references to six of the seven York River Use Conflict Committee Recommendations. The draft was presented to thePlanning Commission on August 17, 2010 and theyvoted unanimously to recommend the Board of Supervisors hold a joint public hearing to solicit comments from the public. This was the only action taken by the County to address these recommendations.



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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