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Add To Calendar 25/02/2016 11:15:0025/02/2016 11:35:00America/ChicagoAquaculture 2016MARYLAND INITIATIVES TO ADVANCE SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE: STRATEGIES FOR ATTRACTING INVESTMENT FOR PROFITABLE DEVELOPMENT LoireThe World Aquaculture Societyjohnc@was.orgfalseanrl65yqlzh3g1q0dme13067DD/MM/YYYY

MARYLAND INITIATIVES TO ADVANCE SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE: STRATEGIES FOR ATTRACTING INVESTMENT FOR PROFITABLE DEVELOPMENT

Donald Webster*
 University of Maryland Extension
 Wye Research & Education Center
 PO Box 169, 124 Wye Narrows Drive
 Queenstown MD 21658
 dwebster@umd.edu

While Maryland has had a history of allowing leasing of areas of the Chesapeake and coastal bays for over 150 years, conflict with public harvesters kept it from becoming a significant contributor to overall harvest throughout the 20th century.  However, drastic declines in the oyster population and the number of commercial harvesters allowed the leasing program to be renovated in 2009.  The revised program wiped out most prohibitions that existed previously and replaced it with the concept of "use or lose", whereby leaseholders are required to produce on the lands they obtain to assure that they are in active production and not just held for no purpose.

When the new lease program began in 2010, the state had also developed a series of support programs to aid growers in establishing profitable businesses.  An Oyster Aquaculture Education & Training Program, low interest loan program and Remote Setting Training program were initiated through NOAA funds, while the USDA NRCS offered grants through its EQIP practices to aid beginning shellfish farmers.  An "Oyster Team" of state agencies and NGOs worked to educate and aid growers using both traditional spat on shell bottom culture and newer contained methods of oyster production.

In 2011, the Maryland legislature, at the Governor's initiative, combined several agencies involved in various leasing activities into a single office to provide permitting efficiency.  A Regional General Permit was obtained from the US Army Corps of Engineers for expediency in issuing smaller leases.  A tracking system for analyzing permit times was developed to identify problem areas requiring solution to get businesses started more rapidly.

The paper provides an overview of the process to renovate lease laws and develop the support programs that aided its success. It discusses ongoing efforts to identify and solve obstacles that remain and suggests strategies for regional and national problems.

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