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For oysters, an aquacultural revolution

VIRGINIA - It looks as if a shop class tried to build a party barge with materials from Home Depot: galvanized metal, salt-treated lumber and a big black paddle wheel that never stops turning.</b> <br><br> The device - all 63 feet of it - was the center of attention last week at a Northern Neck oyster farm where two watermen are struggling to keep their family businesses alive. <br><br> Part barge, part dock, the curious rig is symbolic of the innovative thinking behind the fledgling aquaculture industry on the Chesapeake Bay. <br><br> The industry is something Virginia will be famous for in years to come, predicted Roger Mann, director of research and applied science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. &quot;It&#39;s all just emerging from the dark, at the moment,&quot; he said. <br><br> Virginia&#39;s tradition-bound oyster industry had little room for innovation as Northumberland County oyster packer Lake Cowart Jr. and his father once knew it. <br><br> &quot;We didn&#39;t worry about aquaculture,&quot; Cowart said at a tour of his aquaculture facilities last week. Instead, growers bought seed oysters from the James River and planted them in their local waters. In three years, they reaped a profitable harvest. <br><br> <i>Source: TimesDispatch</i>

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