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Group seeks to halt oyster farming permits

US - A Middle Peninsula planning commission wants the state's marine regulatory agency to halt approval of new oyster farming operations while conflicts associated with the emerging industry are studied.

The Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission unanimously passed a resolution asking the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to stop authorizing new permits for underwater structures - like metal cages used for oyster farming - while a conflict study is conducted.

Lewis Lawrence, director of regional planning for the Middle Peninsula group, said the suspension would coincide with a study that began in October of competing interests along Gloucester Point's shoreline.

A study group will use the information to make policy recommendations, he said.

The resolution does not specifically target aquaculture, but the permits are required for cages that are used commercially to protect oysters from predators until harvest.

Officials from both commissions said the move was spurred by water-use disputes that arose this summer along the York and Ware rivers in conjunction with oyster farming operations.

Source: Daily