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Document Type

Book Chapter


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Mark W. Luckenbach, Roger Mann, James A. Wesson

Publication Date


Book Title

Oyster reef habitat restoration : a synopsis and synthesis of approaches ; proceedings from the symposium, Williamsburg, Virginia, April 1995


VIMS Press


Gloucester Point, VA


Dredging can have a beneficial effect on oyster habitat when the placement of the dredged material is effectively managed to help provide the bottom structure necessary to develop an oyster reef. Construction and maintenance of the Waterway on the Coast of Virginia (WCV) by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has provided a number of examples of this process, both serendipitous and deliberate. The historical development of reefs that evolved from the random overboard placement of dredged material and the subsequent leasing of these areas for oyster cultivation is reviewed. A monitoring plan for the development of a reef in Swash Bay using maintenance dredging material is also described including pre- and post-dredging hydrographic surveys, surface sediment distributions, and shellfish surveys.

After one year, the benthic communities at the recently used placement site, the historical placement site and an unimpacted area in Swash Bay were compared using the Benthic Assessment Method (BAM) to determine short-term impacts. The historical and unimpacted sites had very similar values while the recently used site was somewhat lower. Consequences of continued success in developing oyster reefs in close proximity to a dredged channel are addressed with a suggested management plan that involves rotating the placement among a number of sites. This would allow for the continued maintenance of both the channel and the adjacent oyster reefs.

Use of Dredged Material for Oyster Habitat Creation in Coastal Virginia