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Static Maps: Aquaculture Vulnerability Model

Aquaculture is an environmentally sensitive industry which requires good water quality for successful growth and distribution for human consumption. Threats to water quality are caused largely by land use practices. In Virginia, development and agricultural practices present the greatest threats. In the future, the potential conversion of land uses through regulated zoning at the local level poses a significant risk to the future of aquaculture in Virginia. This is particularly true on the Eastern Shore of Virginia which boasts a multi-million dollar shellfish growing industry that surpasses all other on the eastern seaboard.

This study uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model risks to shellfish aquaculture. The model first considers basics physical and biological conditions necessary for aquaculture success and second, the impacts that current land use and proposed local zoning has on suitable growing areas. The study uses data available from federal, state, and local government sources to derive salinity, bathymetry, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) distribution, water quality, land use, and local zoning. A vulnerability index is scaled to reflect current and projected conditions and the resulting impact to shellfish growing.

This mapping project was funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through Grant #NA06NOS4190241 of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended.

The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NOAA, or any of its subagencies.

 

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