Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Should the Commonwealth of Virginia ever consider a regulated expansion of the aquaculture industry to public Baylor ground, timely information regarding the productivity of these grounds and the ability to support aquaculture would be highly desirable information. In this scenario, public bottom will be opened to private shellfish growers in the Commonwealth under what will likely be a tightly monitored regulation. The demise in productivity of natural oyster beds within Baylor Grounds is well known. However, there is no comprehensive resource that addresses whether Baylor Grounds would be suitable for aquaculture. This study uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model suitable shellfish growing areas within the public Baylor Grounds. The model considers basic physical and biological conditions necessary for aquaculture success, potential ecological use conflicts, and the impacts that current land use has on suitable growing areas. The study uses data available from federal, state, and local government sources to derive salinity, bathymetry, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) distribution, water quality, oyster rock, and land use. A classification is scaled to reflect current conditions. The project focuses on Baylor Ground within the Lower Rappahannock River only. Results do not reflect conditions elsewhere in the Bay. The model results indicate that water depth in a large percent of the Baylor Ground in this particular area is too deep for most aquaculture operations. Salinity values in the river are generally too low for clam aquaculture. Oyster aquaculture appears to be the only viable shellfish growing opportunity on Baylor Grounds in the Lower Rappahannock River. The locations of preferred sites are depicted on maps.
Aquaculture, Modeling, Salinity, Shellfish
The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, or any of its subagencies.
This mapping project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant # NA07NOS4190178 of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.
Center for Coastal Resources Management, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. (2008) Shellfish Aquaculture Suitability Within Baylor Grounds of the Lower Rappahannock River. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. https://doi.org/10.21220/V5HB3M