Homeowners opposed to oyster cages in Mathews County

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A debate is underway in Mathews County.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted Tuesday in Newport News to approve a permit for oyster cages along Milford Haven.

Picture of cage from Tuesday's meeting

In March, Kevin Wade, the owner of J&W Seafood, filed a permit to install 700 floating shellfish cages.

According to documents obtained by News 3, the cages would cover a 400’ x 600’ area over Wade’s existing oyster planting ground lease.

During Tuesday’s commission meeting, he said floating cages will produce quality oysters and if installed, they will be about 500 feet offshore. Wade also said it will bring jobs, both part- and full-time.

Dozens of people against the project also spoke before the commission. Many said the cages are ugly and will obstruct navigation for boaters.

"Sailboats are gonna have a hard time accessing they water right next to their own property," homeowner Tom Reed said.

One person opposed said “nobody in boating public” will be able to access the area. Another issue was whether dolphins would be harmed.

Project staff said this won’t pose a hazard to dolphins in the haven.

“The impacts it’s going to have on our community - it’s embarrassing," Reed explained.

Four commissioners voted for approve the permit: two against, and two others abstained.

One of the partners with the project said it now has to go before the Army Corps of Engineers before they can begin construction.

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