Shellfish aquaculture belongs in the bay, not the Niantic River
About the “Commercial shellfishing debate ongoing in Waterford and East Lyme,” (Oct 28), using the term “commercial shellfishing” leads people to believe a few cages are going to be dropped onto the river bottom to catch shellfish for market. What is being proposed for the Niantic River is commercial aquaculture — installing a farm — requiring tens of thousands of pieces of gear dispersed across 10 acres. That gear floats on and protrudes from the water, causes safety, navigation and aesthetic issues and very little (if any) of it is hidden.
Because of how small the river is, there is nowhere to site it that isn’t directly in front of existing businesses, private properties, scenic overlooks and community spaces. Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward is right, this doesn’t fit with how the river is used today.
Studies show the boating volume rivals that of the Connecticut River, yet is a fraction of the size. This notion that 1 percent is small is ridiculous given the volume of gear, the siting issues and the disproportionate impact it has on everyone around it.
There may have been some cages dropped on the river bottom in the past, but there is absolutely no precedent for commercial aquaculture of this scale in the history of the Niantic River. It belongs in the Bay. Terry Lineberger Waterford