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Virginia CZM Program: 2012 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo



Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission 

Project Title:

Seaside SAMP –Recreational & Commercial Fishing Uses on the Seaside and Adjacent Atlantic Ocean and SAV Restoration Goals 

Project Description as Proposed:

The Seaside Special Area Management Planning (SAMP) team (which includes the Marine Resources Commission), and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) are currently collecting data needed for better ocean planning on the Seaside and Mid-Atlantic Ocean off Virginia and have identified a need for better human use data, particularly the need for  recreational, cultural and commercial fishing use data. A better understanding of how humans are using the nearshore and offshore areas is expected to lead to better ocean planning and in turn reduce marine-use conflicts, maximize use-efficiency, and enhance environmental and economic productivity.  Some  commercial fishing data is available through Vessel Trip Reports and other commercial fishing data collected by NOAA, but experience in other regions has shown the importance of giving commercial fishers an opportunity to provide additional, direct input through a PGIS process that can be compared to existing data.  

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) is proposing to collect a second year of aerial survey data and finalize an assessment of recreational/cultural uses and collect commercial fishing use data for the inshore and offshore areas of the Seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and adjacent ocean to produce a baseline dataset for use by the Seaside SAMP team and MARCO.  The assessment will utilize two different surveying techniques including solicitation of key stakeholder information via a participatory Geographical Information Systems (GIS) workshops and individual stakeholder meetings, and aerial surveying during expected times of peak use. Each technique will provide detailed comprehensive information that illustrates locations experiencing the greatest use for each of a variety of commercial fishing uses. The A-NPDC will work with partnering agencies including the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center (NOAA CSC), the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program (VCZMP), and MARCO to determine commercial fishing use assessment categories and develop assessment methodologies that will serve as the standard approach for other regions and states on the Mid-Atlantic coastline. The overall expected outcome of the proposed project is increased understanding of the spatial extent of commercial fishing uses in inshore and offshore Seaside environments, which in turn will lead to improved marine spatial planning decisions, enhanced environmental and economic productivity, and reduction in marine-use conflicts. 

In addition this project will sponsor meetings among representatives of the Marine Resources Commission, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and local watermen and shellfish aquaculturists to finalize an appropriate SAV restoration goal for the Seaside and leasing policies that would support a bay scallop population, and allow adequate space for other uses such as the clam and oyster industry and recreation. 

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Curt Smith; 757.787.2936 x114,  

Project Status:

10/1/2012 - 12/31/2014; Project Closed 

Final Product Received:

Recreational Use Assessment Report - Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore (PDF)

Commercial and Recreational Use Assessment Report - Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore (PDF)

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation on the Seaside of Virginia's Eastern Shore: Restoration Goal Development and Management Report (PDF) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

NOTE: Recreational use project summary was provided in May 2014, so this project summary focuses on commercial seaside uses.

Seaside Commercial Use Literature Search

A-NPDC identified commercial data sets from VMRC about commercial permits and landings, from the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office for federal fishing permits, from MARCO and Rutger’s University commercial fishing activity through their Communities at Sea mapping project, and from local government offices for infrastructure facilities that serve commercial fishermen.

Seaside Commercial Fisherman Survey and Participatory GIS

A-NPDC send surveys in January 2015 to the 210 inshore and nearshore fishermen licensed by the VMRC to fish on the seaside of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Fishermen were asked whether they encountered conflicts in their work, and if so, were asked about the nature of those conflicts.

Surveys included maps of the water bodies for which they were licensed, along with a map of the entire Eastern Shore. Survey respondents were asked to indicate on the maps the areas in which they fished on seaside of the Eastern Shore. Thirty-seven surveys were returned, and maps were geo-coded to specific water bodies to produce maps of self-reported seaside fishing activity.

Seaside Commercial Use Assessment Report

A-NPDC incorporated all data generated during the literature search, surveys, and participatory GIS into the Final Report. The inshore, nearshore and offshore areas generally encompassing Chincoteague Bay, Chincoteague Channel, Assateague Island, and Tom’s Cove showed both the highest level of use and the highest level of conflict. Fishermen most frequently cited other commercial fishermen and closures for rocket launches at Wallops Flight Facility as sources of conflict.

SAV Restoration Goal & Management Report

The project resulted in the VMRC voting to authorize two of the four proposed SAV set-aside areas, the area in Cobb Bay and the northernmost area in South Bay, with a requirement that an annual report on SAV potential and SAV losses be provided to VMRC to ensure any SAV expansion does not encroach onto leased bottomland currently utilized for aquaculture or environmental conditions have not changed in a manner that no longer is suitable for SAV growth. The A-NPDC coordinated a review process with project team members and all who submitted comments during the January VMRC meeting. All suggested revisions were incorporated into the report prior to distribution to all stakeholders and the project team.

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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