For oysters, an aquacultural revolution

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
31 July 2006, at 1:00am

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. 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. Part barge, part dock, the curious rig is symbolic of the innovative thinking behind the fledgling aquaculture industry on the Chesapeake Bay. 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. "It's all just emerging from the dark, at the moment," he said. Virginia's tradition-bound oyster industry had little room for innovation as Northumberland County oyster packer Lake Cowart Jr. and his father once knew it. "We didn't worry about aquaculture," 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. Source: TimesDispatch