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VMRC approves North River oyster lease request

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission unanimously approved a request from Michael E. West to lease 183.92 acres of oyster planting grounds on the Gloucester side of the North River during the board’s April 24 meeting in Newport News.

VMRC staff had voiced concerns about economic feasibility as well as the possibility of a better use for the plat, as it is public trust.

The tract was reduced from 235 to 183.92 acres following a survey by Bay Design Group that found submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in some areas of the initial acreage.

The applicant was agreeable to that reduction in size, which occurred as a result of consideration of previously published VIMS research on SAV.

However, West and his legal counsel were not agreeable to a subsequent staff recommendation to reduce the 183.92-acre tract to 43 acres.

Staff cited the water depth, soft bottom, and economic concerns as reasons for this recommended reduction. Staff did not find evidence of substantial culture mate...

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