Millions for marine restoration on Eastern Shore seaside

May 2, 2023
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By Linda Cicoira

     The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded nearly $2.26 million dollars to continue marine restoration efforts and provide critical habitat for fish, bay scallops, and crabs on the Eastern Shore’s seaside, according to an announcement made Friday.

       The money will enable the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program and its grantee, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, to plant 60 acres of eelgrass and release more than six million bay scallops.

     The program is a network of state agencies and coastal localities, led by the Virginia DEQ, that administers the state’s coastal laws and policies. These restoration efforts have been a joint effort since 2001.

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     Eelgrass and bay scallops were bountiful on the Eastern Shore’s seaside until disease and a hurricane eliminated them from the area in the early 1930s. Neither returned until 2002, when restoration began under Virginia CZM’s Seaside Heritage Program, and VIMS began restoring seagrass in southern seaside bays.

     DEQ Director Michael Rolband said, “Seagrass and bay scallop restoration not only provide habitat, but also improve water quality, and seagrass helps reduce shoreline erosion.”

        Program manager Laura McKay said, “We are excited to make such a large contribution to this globally significant restoration effort. We look forward to sharing progress and the ways this project will benefit the environment, recreational and commercial fishing, and tourism.”

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