Shell­fish aqua­cul­ture be­longs in the bay, not the Niantic River

The Day - - OPINION -

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

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