Virginia is the nation’s third largest producer of marine products, behind Alaska and Louisiana. But working waterfronts in coastal Virginia are under increasing threats from development, sea level rise, subsidence, and loss of marine habitat to name a few.
At a recent conference sponsored by the Virginia Coastal Policy Center stakeholders presented a plan to save working waterfronts to members of the general assembly.
There are almost 600 working waterfronts in Virginia ranging in use from shipbuilding to oyster farming. Delegate Keith Hodges grew up and represents the Middle Peninsula.
"I actually worked the water with my uncle and I've seen the working waterfronts over the years disappear," says Hodges.
The new plan outlines ways to preserve Virginia's commercial fishing heritage and to protect, restore and enhance waterfronts that depend on commercial and recreational activities.
Delegate Robert Bloxom, who represents the Eastern Shore and part of Norfolk, says the biggest challenge is money.
"If you're just going to ask for funding from Richmond I think everyone probably knows the answer is 'no,'" Bloxom says. "I think the localities are really going to have to put some money up and then ask for the money."
The plan recommends localities support commercial marine activities through regulation, and by adding language to their comprehensive plans that will promote expanding and preserving those businesses. It also suggests educating the public about the culture and heritage of working waterfronts.