The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted recently to increase protection for oyster restoration sites in Norfolk’s Lafayette River and parts of other Virginia tributaries.
In 2014, the City of Norfolk sent a proposal to VMRC, requesting the agency to create an oyster sanctuary in the Lafayette River to protect restoration sites and relict reefs.
Although the current regulation does not specifically create sanctuaries, it does prohibit wild oyster harvesting and leasing for aquaculture in the Lafayette and other condemned Virginia tributaries.
For decades, the Lafayette River has been closed to oyster harvesting due to poor water quality; recently, water quality has improved.
State regulators are considering changing rules to allow for the leasing of river bottom for oyster aquaculture in the Lafayette under certain strict conditions.
Restoration efforts on the river are coordinated by NOAA fisheries, which leads the Lafayette Oyster Restoration Workgroup. Members include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the City of Norfolk, the Elizabeth River Project, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Christopher Newport University.
source: NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office