NEWSLETTER # 113 JUNE, 2005
Oyster Gardening - North CarolinaStyle:
Contributed by Skip Kemp, Aquaculture Technology Program,CarteretCommunity College
With the end of cold windy weather (if it ever arrives) comes the beginning of oyster spawning season. The Aquaculture Department atCarteretCommunity Collegewill take advantage of that opportunity to collect ripe oysters and spawn them in our oyster hatchery.
Two years ago we demonstrated the techniques to produce eyed-larvae oysters inNorth Carolina's only oyster hatchery. That year we produced 10 million larvae as a proof-of-concept. Since then the CCC Aquaculture program has been shuffled from an old menhaden factory to a concrete slab on the lawn. This year in a newly renovated facility we will shift into production mode and plan on producing over 20 million eyed-larvae oysters.
The purpose for this year's oysters will be to support shellfish gardening efforts for the Citizens' Oyster Gardening Program, a project funded by APNEP. The APNEP project is open to one and all and intends to use citizen’s efforts to help restore oysters to the estuaries from which they have been taken. For this project we will use a technique to produce "seeded cultch", which means that the cultch, oyster shells or marl rock, are put into a tank of water with oyster larvae which attach themselves to the cultch. Seeded cultch already has baby oysters growing on it when it is planted; sort of a "jump start" for the oysters.
Citizens can pick up the seeded cultch from the hatchery and plant it in their waters. One unique aspect of this program is that seeded cultch if put directly on the bottom of the estuary can be done in open waters (clean) or closed (polluted) waters. To learn more about how this program works and to get a brief education in estuaries and oyster gardening, please go to the COGP website www.carteret.edu/aqu/cogp and read through the training materials.
The COGP project works collaboratively with a partner called, appropriately, The Shellfish Gardeners of North Carolina. Contact information is also on the COGP website. We will work closely with SGNC chapters to distribute oyster larvae and oyster seeds when they are available.
To clear up some common misunderstanding about oyster gardening there are two types of oyster gardening based on the two ways to grow them:
1.) One is called ON-BOTTOM gardening and is, with some specific education, technically legal in polluted bodies of water or open waters by anyone. This method is used for creating new and restoring old oyster beds. It grows clusters of oysters by simply planting seeded cultch or new cultch for natural spat collection.
2).The other method is called OFF-BOTTOM because it uses plastic mesh cages to contain oysters which are either suspended in or floating on the water. Survival is greater and growth is much faster in the off-bottom method which grows single oysters in the cages. At this time it is only approved for open waters and then only with a permit, which is in the process of being developed by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries. This activity inNorth Carolinahas earned the nickname, UDOC, for Under Dock Oyster Culture. The UDOC program will be developed and administered by NCDMF; contact Craig Hardy for information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-726-7021.
Both oyster gardening methods produce more filtration and fishery habitat which the estuaries desperately need. The oysters produced by the APNEP funded project will also be used by other partners for oyster restoration projects with NCCF, TNC and DMF. One side benefit of the ON-bottom method for polluted areas is that because of the pollution they cannot be harvested which can help protect them for years to come.
The CCC Aquaculture program is a curriculum based college program using hands-on learning methods and classroom courses to teach students about all aspects of saltwater aquaculture or "applied marine biology." For more information about the program please contact Skip Kemp at email@example.com or 252-222-6114.
Land use Planning
The Land Use Plan Update process is nearing an end in a swirl of controversy. The Planning Commission completed the draft plan and submitted it to the Board of Commissioners, some of whom were unhappy with the draft plan, particularly with some policies of the plan which were more restrictive than state standards. At a regular Commissioners meeting and at a subsequent workshop meeting, the Board removed most of the offending policies, while a minority strongly argued for the retention of these policies. The effort to remove them was led by Commissioner Doug Harris.
Later, I talked with Mr. Harris as to the reason for his unhappiness with these policies. His dissatisfaction stems from the fact that these policies, he feels, do little to protect water quality but do place an unnecessary burden on land owners. An example: although we know that impervious surface is a major problem leading to water quality degradation, it is not restricted in the policies. In the area of the county covered by zoning, only the B2 Marine zoning district includes any impervious surface restriction. Also, there are no policies covering control of erosion and sedimentation, another prime cause of water quality degradation.
I think that part of the frustration is due to the fact that the policies are attempts to control degradation by specifying control measures (command and control regulation); instead performance based standards should be in place.Performance based standards requireland owners to meet certain standards for protecting water quality but the method of achieving these standards is left to the owner. For example, Mr. Harris feels that a requirement to contain the first inch and a half of rainwater on the property is much better than specifying the distance of a parking lot from the waters edge.
The major problem with changing the Plan to reflect Mr. Harris’ suggestions is that the process is nearing the end. The Planning Commission has finished its job and the plan now goes to the Division of Coastal Management for their review. This review will include input from a variety of state agencies and will result in suggestions that will come back to the Planning Commission. After further review and modification to accommodate the DCM comments, the Board of Commissioners will hold a Public Hearing (scheduled for approximately September) to obtain final public input before adoption by the Commissioners. The final adopted plan will then go to the Coastal Resources Commission for approval. If the county does decide to add policies as suggested by Mr. Harris, such changes probably could only be accomplished by amending the approved plan unless the Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners decide to make changes before final adoption.
The N.C. Stormwater website has arrived: www.ncstormwater.org
Sponsored by the N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the site includes data, statistics, reports, and maps; news and events; permits and certifications; laws and regulations; a complaint form; and other resources. A toll-free number to report stormwater violations (1-877-623-6748) scrolls across the bottom of the screen. It’s a flood of good stuff.