The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold a public workshop on Delaware’s Inland Bays shellfish aquaculture regulations currently under development at 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, at DNREC’s Lewes Field Facility, 901 Pilottown Road, Lewes.
Shellfish aquaculture is the technical term for shellfish farming. A shellfish aquaculturist - or shellfish farmer - raises shellfish such as oysters in containers. The aquaculturist stocks these containers or cages with very young shellfish, raises them until they are market-sized, and then harvests them for sale. Many shellfish aquaculturists along the Atlantic Coast find their products are highly sought by shellfish lovers and gourmets.
The workshop will gather public input on developing Delaware’s shellfish aquaculture regulations before proposed regulations are formally initiated through the state regulatory approval process. Shellfish aquaculture regulations are required to provide the legal structure for the state in leasing public subaqueous land for, and to oversee commercial shellfish aquaculture ventures in the Inland Bays.
Division of Fish and Wildlife staff will present a summary of the developing shellfish aquaculture regulations at the workshop while providing details on specific aspects of the regulations, such as shellfish aquaculture development areas under consideration where shellfish aquaculture would be focused. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide their input on the developing regulations.
The initiative to change Delaware law for allowing shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays began a couple years ago when the Center for the Inland Bays formed a team representing a cross section of interest in the Inland Bays to develop a model shellfish aquaculture law. The Delaware Legislature passed and the governor signed the Inland Bays shellfish aquaculture law in 2013. The law charged DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife with drafting regulations for commercial shellfish aquaculture and to administer shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays.
“We are on the final steps for commercial shellfish aquaculture to begin in the Inland Bays,” said David Saveikis, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Shellfish aquaculture will occur in the Inland Bays based on the law passed in 2013 outlining the framework for shellfish aquaculture, but these developing regulations are needed to establish details and rules for allowing compatible commercial shellfish aquaculture to occur in the Inland Bays.”
For more information on the shellfish aquaculture public workshop, call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914 or go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries.