Maryland wades into aquaculture

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
25 September 2006, at 1:00am

MARYLAND - Under the briny waters of this rural Worcester County hamlet, Maryland's fledgling aquaculture industry is getting its sea legs. Here, along the sandy bottom of Chincoteague Bay just south of Ocean City, Steve and Christy Gordon have planted millions of clams on beds leased from the state. The couple hope to take a piece of an industry that, in neighboring Virginia, produced close to $30 million for clam farmers during the past year alone. The Gordons' plan to eventually grow and sell enough clams to become a significant supplier to East Coast businesses might seem like a pipe dream in a place where the waters are known more for rampant pollution and shellfish diseases. But many scientists think that entrepreneurs such as the Gordons are the best hope to bring filter-feeding shellfish back into Maryland waters and revive a seafood industry that has long relied on public subsidies. For the first time, Maryland is encouraging people like the Gordons to lease a piece of state-owned bottom and grow their own clams and oysters. The General Assembly passed a law last year to streamline the bureaucratic process of applying for lease-bottom permits, and scientists at the University of Maryland are offering their expertise to growers. Source: Baltimore Sun