SB275 failed 30 Jan, stricken at request of Patron in Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The vote was (13-Y 0-N).
Background: A permit application was submitted last year to install a floating farm in Broad Bay, which has since been rejected by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). Even though the decision reflected popular opinion, the situation is prompting legislation to ban all oyster aquaculture gear in the Lynnhaven.
Consider these factors as you form your own position on this topic:
Is Legislation needed? A process exists to approve permits for oyster aquaculture gear, similar to any in-water structure such as docks and bulkheads. The process ensures public comment which helped influence VMRC's decision to deny the Broad Bay permit. This process ensures local issues stay local and do not impact the rest of the state.
Who owns it? Virginia, and by-extension every citizen, owns submerged lands up to 3 miles offshore. This is a state-wide resource and not one that can be subjected to control by only local interests. For the same reason citizens are notified when proposals boarder their property, so should every citizen have a say in public land use. This legislation has high potential to go unnoticed and set a dangerous precedent for all of Virginia.
A dangerous precedent? What is so different about Virginia Beach’s development to other coastal and riparian areas? None. If a ban here becomes law, this can be used in other developing areas to effectively kill access to local oysters and a thriving industry that not-only relieves pressure on natural resources, but also does a lot to restore the overall health of Virginia's waterways.
While this bill is killed, there are still many others to monitor. There is always legislation that seeks to either improve or negatively impact a situation depending on one's point of view. LOC will continue to monitor legislative actions and share what we think is most relevant to a thriving local farm to fork experience.