Federal Funding Awarded for Oyster Farming - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Federal Funding Awarded for Oyster Farming

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - A coalition made up of the Delaware Center For the Inland Bays, The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and a hodgepodge of elected officials were celebrating Friday afternoon, after receiving substantial federal funding for oyster farming. 

Two grants were awarded to research and market the new industry. The Department of Commerce gave $164,341 to the University of Delaware to study the economics of ecosystem services from aquaculture. The goal of that study is to estimate consumer willingness to pay for oysters marketed as local and marketed as improving water quality. This will help make future decisions about further investment in the industry. 

The second grant of $28,287 was issued by USDA Rural Development in order to formulate a marketing strategy for the new industry. 

Chris Bason, the executive director at the center, said that they had been working on this project since 2003. The oyster population has been severely depleted due to disease in the Inland Bays, and Bason said the goal was to bring the population back. Bason said the reasoning for bringing these oysters back is twofold. 

"This is a new industry for Sussex County," he said. "It's going to create jobs and it's going to clean up the water."

Bason told WBOC that these oysters are natural filters, adding that just one oyster could filter 20 to 50 gallons of water per day. 

"This is a chance to really celebrate the federal contributions to making this new industry in Sussex County a reality." 

However some residents are not on board with the planned industry. At Quillen's Point, president of the homeowner association David Green said there are substantial concerns amongst neighbors. 

"The oyster farm will be directly here," Green said as he stood on the community marina. "Less than 200 feet from where we're standing." 

Green said that the oyster farms would disrupt the recreational boating in the area. Beyond that he also said appearance could weaken home values in the area. 

"It will have a direct impact on our ability to use what we would like to think is our living room," he said. "It's where we recreate." 

Diane Maddex lives along the Little Assawoman Bay, and said she is also concerned about the plans for oyster farms near her community's home. 

"Visual aspects of it seem very overwhelming to us," she said. "There's going to be 442 plots at least eventually. Each one will have four pipes around it.. Pipes - six feet tall." 

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