Reviving the Bay 2

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Dec 15, 2010 - 03:42 PM

Photo: With the wind blowing and temperatures a frigid 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit in Mathews Wednesday morning, waterman Carlton Haywood, left, and his nephew Ronald Haywood decided not to go oyster dredging. Instead, they moved the boat downstream to the public dock on Davis Creek in case of ice and took care of some maintenance. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

With the wind blowing and temperatures a frigid 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit in Mathews Wednesday morning, waterman Carlton Haywood, left, and his nephew Ronald Haywood decided not to go oyster dredging. Instead, they moved the boat downstream to the public dock on Davis Creek in case of ice and took care of some maintenance. Photo by Sherry Hamilton.

Carlton Haywood of Mathews, hadn’t heard about VMRC’s proposed regulations regarding oyster aquaculture opportunity zones before Tuesday, and after hearing about them, he’s not at all sure he sees the proposal as an opportunity for him.

A waterman for nearly 30 years, Haywood said he would have to know more about the proposal before he’d put his neck out, and even then, he doesn’t see himself investing in the necessary equipment and supplies—oyster aquaculture cages, buoys, corner markers, oyster seed, etc. That all takes a lot of money, and he already owns a boat and the equipment he needs to dredge oysters, gill net, and crab pot.

"It depends on how much is involved and what you’ll get out of it," he said. "If I could make any money and keep going and surviving, I’d do it. But if you’ve got to buy all the equipment and maintain it, what are you going to get out of it?"

Not only that, but Haywood isn’t sure he trusts anything that bears the mark of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. He holds the commission responsible for hurting watermen by closing large segments of oyster grounds only to have the oysters die.

"If we’d been able to work the bottom, they wouldn’t be dying," he said. He pointed out that oysters on the bottom have been covered by silt, and he thinks the cure for that is allowing watermen to turn the oysters and clean them by working the bottom.

"As far as anything to help VMRC out, I’m not for it," Haywood said. "But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do."