Oyster Farming

VIRGINIA - Raising oysters in mesh cages above river bottoms - poses promises and pitfalls in the years ahead, says A.J. Erskine, aquaculture manager for two Northern Neck oyster processors.</b> &quot;It&#39;s an interesting time,&quot; said Erskine, a 34-year-old graduate of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in Gloucester County. <br><br> &quot;Something is getting ready to burst.&quot; <br><br> Disease and overfishing have nearly wiped out the bay area&#39;s oysters. <br><br> Erskine predicts that oyster farming could improve the Chesapeake Bay&#39;s poor water quality and provide a more reliable harvest for watermen - who could buy seed oysters from large companies, grow those oysters and then sell them back to the company. <br><br> But Erskine also sees problems. <br><br> Government-backed loans might be needed to cover expensive startup costs for small companies. <br><br> Another pitfall was highlighted last week when waterfront homeowners complained about cluttered waters and unsightly views when a Gloucester County company won approval to put out oyster cages. <br><br> &quot;We can work something out for the benefit of everybody,&quot; Erskine said. <br><br> <i>Source: Daily Press </i>

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