[PAST EVENT] Virginia is a leader in the shellfish aquaculture industry--Now what?

October 7, 2011
3:30pm - 4:30pm
VIMS - Watermen's Hall, McHugh Auditorium
1375 Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA 23062Map this location
"Virginia is a leader in the shellfish aquaculture industry--Now what?"

Reception at 3:00 pm in Watermen's Hall Lobby
Seminar from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm in McHugh Auditorium

Mike Pierson
President of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association and Former Managing Director of Cherrystone Aqua-Farms

Virginia is the leading producer of cultured hard clams in the nation and is quickly returning as a major oyster producer. This is a result of not just geography but of political decisions going back more than 100 years. From the Baylor Survey to the establishment of the Marine Resources Commission and VIMS, these decisions have allowed for the growth of a flourishing shellfish industry which generates over $30 million in annual sales and employs hundreds of people. The continued growth and even the survival of the industry are not guaranteed. The industry requires the support of regulatory agencies to monitor and protect the high water quality that has allowed the industry to prosper and scientific research to help solve problems that may be beyond the scope of our hatcheries to overcome and to monitor for pathogens so that the safest husbandry methods can be practiced. We must insist on sensible regulations that protect the public health without crippling the shellfish industry. The years ahead will be challenging for the shellfish industry. New regulations could alter the very structure of our businesses. VIMS and other public entities that help support the industry must also be supported. In these budget-conscious days, we may have to come up with innovative ways to fund these essential services.

Dr. Peirson received his BS in biology from Delaware Valley College in 1970. He worked as a technician at the VIMS Wachapreague Lab with Mike Castagna during 1972-1974 culturing hard clams and bay scallops. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1974 to work at the Research Division of the Rohm and Haas Company doing research for the commercial registration of pesticides. In 1979 he entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University with a Sea Grant Fellowship. Shortly after obtaining his degree in 1983 he was contacted by Chad Ballard, Sr., of Ballard Fish & Oyster Company to start up what was to become Cherrystone Aqua-Farms on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He served as Managing Director until his retirement in July of 2010. He is currently serving as President of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Assocation.

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