Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Couple faces obstacles trying to enter oyster industry

by Audrey Thomasson

GREENVALE CREEK—Three years ago, a young couple applied to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for aquaculture leases to raise oysters in floating cages in the Rappahannock River.

Last summer, Aaron and Taryn Rowland formed the company, Rogue Oysters, and became the latest entrepreneur oystering outfit to try to navigate the rough waters of boaters and waterfront property owners opposed to increasing numbers of oyster cages which they say can clog up the shoreline.

The Rowlands’ lease application for 250 acres along the Rappahannock’s north shore near Beach Creek in Ottoman was recently denied after residents in the area fought to keep them out. VMRC suggested they apply for a permit instead. However, because permits are priced by the square foot, the cost is prohibitive.

“A lease is $1.50 an acre. A permit would cost us $250 an acre each year,” said A. Rowland.

In order to block further attempts to obtain the oystering rights, residents formed the Beach Creek Association and applied for 70 of the same acres under the name of resident Thomas J. Mayhew.

According to association member Mark Dodson, the objection is to the unlimited number of oyster growing cages that VMRC allows, which could make it difficult for boaters to access the creek, would interfere with future dredging operations and damage river grasses…

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