A ceremony was held at Gloucester Point Monday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of establishment of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. Speakers said the act has helped monitor water quality, promote living shorelines, and restore habitats for submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster reefs.
During presentations on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science campus at Gloucester Point and later on a boat tour of the Goodwin Islands portion of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the approximately 40 federal, state and local officials invited to participate were informed about many of the successes that the CZM, as it is often referred to, has seen so far.
In Virginia, passage of the act for CZM has led to healthy coastal waters and communities, said John Wells, dean and director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. CBNERR, based on the VIMS campus, was the first reserve to be administered in conjunction with a school of higher education.
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas Domenech illustrated how CZM regulations are working well, pointing to improved eelgrass, scallops, oysters and other marine life in the region. The reserves created to preserve some of the natural areas have benefited from the newer technology that has occurred.
The CZM’s importance can be seen from the economic side as well, said Sally Yozell, Director of Policy and Senior Advisor to the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Healthier waterways mean thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic impact, she said.