VMRC Announces New Oyster Rules: Bridge work may be causing oyster deaths in Mathews Co.

Accord­ing to a release by The Vir­ginia Marine Resources Com­mis­sion, a “lim­ited entry pol­icy” on oys­ter hand scrapes and dredges has been approved, that will take about half of the cur­rent license hold­ers out of the state’s pub­lic oys­ter fish­ery. The pol­icy, as approved last week, will elim­i­nate licenses for those oys­ter­men who either did not report any har­vest or who worked less than 20 days in the 2013–14 or 2014–15 sea­sons. The rea­son, accord­ing to the VMRC is sim­ple. They say if an oys­ter­man did not report a har­vest or worked only 20 days in either of those years, they were not really seri­ous about it any­way. VMRC offi­cials are pre­dict­ing the upcom­ing 2015–16 pub­lic oys­ter sea­son har­vest to be 65% of what it was last year. They claim that research has shown a poor spawn year for the upcom­ing sea­son. The oys­ter sea­son opens in Octo­ber but the lim­ited entry pol­icy does not go into effect until Jan­u­ary 1, 2016. The new lim­ited entry rul­ing does not impact the use of hand oys­ter tongs or those who oys­ter on pub­lic rock with patent oys­ter tongs.


 

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HUDGINS, Va. (AP) — A new study says there’s a possible link between oyster larvae deaths at a hatchery last year and rehabilitation work on the Gwynn’s Island Bridge in Mathews County.

The Daily Press reports that the study by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences found elevated levels of zinc and other metal contaminants in the water. The water flows in the direction of Oyster Seeds Holdings LLC on Gwynn’s Island.

But the study couldn’t determine what caused the oyster larvae to die.

Hatchery owner Mike Congrove says production dropped to 150 million oyster larvae last year. The hatchery produces more than 1 billion oyster larvae in a typical year.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kelly Hannon says the study shows the need for more coordination to protect the environment.

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