Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill 160 today to permit shellfish aquaculture in Delaware's Inland Bays.
House Bill 160, authorizes DNREC to direct and control the shellfish aquaculture activities within the Inland Bays and to set criteria for the approval of lease sites and applications for leasing. In 2011, the shellfish aquaculture industry on the East Coast was valued at $119 million, with 10 percent annual growth.
House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf sponsored the legislation following a review of the impact of shellfish aquaculture on the state. Center for Inland Bays (CIB) led a 14-month effort by a committee of experts and stakeholders to explore the potential shellfish aquaculture and address the challenges of the project.
"Due to the hard work of Speaker Schwartzkopf, Center for Inland Bays and its partners, DNREC, and the Department of Agriculture, we are establishing shellfish aquaculture in a responsible and beneficial way that respects the other activities in our bays," said Markell at the Center for Inland Bays office on the Indian River Inlet where he was joined by members of CIB’s team. "Supporting this industry represents another example of how we can enact policies that boost our economy and generate millions of dollars for our state, while also better protecting our environment."
“The Center is very pleased to have coordinated the work of the committee that laid the scientific and educational groundwork for this bill," said CIB Executive Director Chris Bason. "Convening stakeholders to work together is central to our mission. I am grateful for all of the community participation and I think the bill truly reflects the hard work and careful deliberations of everyone on the team.”