Aquaculture regulatory proposal lacks balanced planning

March 20, 2014

I was quoted in your Feb. 21 issue as objecting to oyster aquaculture because “there isn’t enough room in the three bays for aquaculture and recreational boating.” This is not what I said or believe! My comments were specifically directed toward Rehoboth Bay and Indian River Bay which I have spent over 40 years enjoying.

In summary, what I said, believe and ask your readers to consider is as follows:

• Our inland bays are very small and already congested with crab pots, clammers (recreational and commercial), water skiers/tubers, fishermen, swimmers, kayaks, sailboats and cruisers. All of which are fine!

• There may be room yet on Rehoboth Bay for some aquaculture plots if regulators balance the number, size and location of the plots so as not to create more space conflicts that end up in avoidable, expensive and time-consuming legal contests which was certainly not the Legislature’s intent.

• The plots maps I viewed showed three plots on Rehoboth Bay, one plot on Indian River and Little Assawoman Bays each. Rehoboth Bay is the smallest bay and is already the most congested bay of our three Inland Bays.

• The two plots that made no sense on Rehoboth Bay were the two plots just east of Bluff Point and the entrance to Massey’s Ditch channel coming from Rehoboth Bay. Both of these plots are right along the new channel directing boats through the “flats” to get to the Indian River Inlet and bay. One of these plots is a beautiful sandy beach area where literally hundreds of boaters pull up and anchor on any given day in the summer to swim, clam, cook out and relax in the sun. This is a fact. I know. My home views this area.

• Holding these meetings in the winter when many/most seasonal boaters aren’t here is just a regulatory shenanigan to avoid real public input. These seasonal boaters also pay taxes and numerous license fees. Now the public input period is closed, which makes no sense.

• I spent significant time suggesting to one of the managers that a better and larger plot location would be on the west shoreline of Rehoboth Bay where there is no beach or channel. At one time the Center for the Inland Bays was asking for support to recreate wetlands islands that eroded away by northeast storms. The restoration of these islands as a wetlands area created with spoils from maintenance dredging the channels was a smart plan, but has not yet been funded. These areas would help protect aquaculture plots from storm damage and could be more easily protected from poachers. The oyster watermen are being asked to put up significant dollars to start their business. They have a right to ask for their investment to be reasonably protected.

• The CIB and the Division of Fish and Wildlife did an inadequate job of evaluating plot locations and the competing uses for a relatively small area, particularly in Rehoboth Bay. My suggestion was to re-evaluate the plot locations to balance the various users’ habits. A representative from the CIB took offense to my or anybody’s constructive criticism - as usual!

• I would also note Fish and Wildlife’s failure to update their restricted clamming maps. In 1990 we were sold another DNREC lie, to incur the expense of sewer installation to clean up the bays to reopen the restricted clamming areas. The reports indicate the bays have cleaned up significantly over the last 23 years, yet the maps have never been updated.

Dan Wien
longtime resident
supporter of aquaculture, if it’s done with a comprehensive and balanced plan

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