REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - In the next few months, the First State could be the next state to adopt an aquaculture industry on the East Coast.
"Why now? You know, it's time," said E.J. Chalabala.
On the surface, the proposed launch of a new aquaculture industry looks attractive: big bucks for Delaware.
"It's about time for us to start getting into the $119 million industry that makes up the East Coast," said Chalabala, a Restoration Coordinator, Delaware Center for Inland Bays.
But the heated debate over oyster farming boils below the water line.
Rehoboth, Indian River and Little Assawoman Bays are all, on average, about six to eight-feet deep,according to Chalabala. With oyster beds about four feet high, recreational boaters and fishermen, residents and some clammers worry this will drastically change their way of life.
"It really puts a damper on where we can or can't go and what we can do," said Joshua Alexander, a Long Neck resident.
Todd Dorman works as a commercial clammer in Rehoboth Bay. He believes that if the law can be changed now to allow lease ground "and take it from the public then they can change the law again" to add more land for oyster farms.
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