Marine

Oyster Farmers Denied Barge; Bristol Marina Approved

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The Pinheiros submitted this rendering of what the barge would look like to CRMC.

Father and son oyster farmers were recently denied a request to permanently moor a 40-foot-by-20-foot barge at their 2-acre shellfish bed in Dutch Harbor in Jamestown, R.I. Antonio and Joseph Pinheiro hoped to use the barge with its enclosed cabin as a work area for their oyster cultivation.

Several residents and the town of Jamestown objected, noting the obstruction to scenery and the proliferation of aquaculture equipment in the northern section of Dutch Harbor.

Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) aquaculture coordinator Benjamin Goetsch advised against the barge because the aquaculture license, along with more than 80 others issued for Narragansett Bay, don’t allow permanent vessels, barges, or floating docks.

Goetsch noted during the Oct. 13 CRMC virtual meeting that most aquaculturists keep their work barges in dock areas and motor them to their shellfishing beds as needed.

Aquaculture farms are filling up northern Dutch Harbor in Jamestown. (DEM)

Antonio Pinheiro said shellfishermen are struggling financially because of the coronavirus pandemic. He asked the town to be more supportive of the industry.

“This is a marine town,” Joseph Pinheiro said. “If they support aquaculture, they should embrace this.”

Residents noted that the Pinheiros’ use of low-profile gear is appreciated but complained that the equipment has taken over the harbor, restricting swimming and boating.

Recognizing the growth of the aquaculture industry, Goetsch and the council approved the Pinheiros’ request to add sugar kelp, a winter crop, and blue mussels to the items they can cultivate.

Quonset pier approved

A T-shaped pier — 102-foot-by-62-foot and 120-foot-by-15-foot — was approved as part of a $700 million submarine construction infrastructure buildout at the Quonset Development Corporation in North Kingstown.

A 50-foot-by-200-foot seaplane ramp will be demolished and removed to make way for the new pier. The pier and a new shipping channel will facilitate construction of a new class of nuclear submarine that will be built at the Groton, Conn., and the Quonset facilities by defense contractor General Dynamic Electric Boat. A special barge is being built in Louisiana to transport sections of the submarines between the ports.

CRMC is still deciding if a public hearing is needed to approve Quonset’s plan to blast a portion of the seafloor as part of the dredging for the new channel.

Bristol marina approved

The CRMC board approved 79 new boats slips for an expanded marina that includes a 100-foot slip for the Providence-to-Newport SeaStreak ferry.

Bristol resisted a gas dock for decades, but a group called Build Our Ocean Marina (BOOM) made up of some 150 boaters on the waiting list for a mooring, led a push to expand the existing marina and offer gas service. Bristol voters approved $2 million for the concept in a 2016 referendum. The project also received a $623,729 federal grant.

CRMC approved a variance allowing a reduction in parking space from the required 78 to 58.

Beach access

Earlier this month CRMC and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced a plan for a new walking path to the Weekapaug Breachway in Westerly. A path used by fishermen and the public for decades that stretched from a DEM parking lot to the water was closed after a dispute with the Weekapaug Fire District, which owns a private lot that was traversed by the path.

Visitors were then forced to walk across the rocky breakaway. But a survey of the land boundaries found ample state-owned land along the breachway to accommodate a new path. The path will include a small buffer of existing vegetation. Signage will be installed to guide the public from the parking lot to the shore.

The agencies aim to have the work done this fall.

South Fork Wind Farm

CRMC’s Fishermen’s Advisory Board is scheduled to meet Oct. 22 to begin reviewing a mitigation plan for the South Fork Wind Farm. Ørsted and Eversource plan to install 15 turbines within a federal wind-energy zone east of Block Island. The high-voltage cable will run electrify 35 miles to southern Long Island and provide electricity for East Hampton, N.Y.

Promotions
Coastal policy analyst James Boyd was named CRMC’s acting deputy director after Jeffrey Willis was promoted from the position to executive director.

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  1. regarding the aquaculture industry in the Bay. I sit on the DEM shellfish advisory panel which is advisory to the marine fisheries council who is advisory to CRMC with respect to aquaculture lease applications. there s a range war developing between stakeholders (aquaculturists, boaters, fishermen who pot, and land owners among others) with respect to the leasing of subaqueous areas. CRMC is supposed to be developing a special area management plan (SAMP) for the Bay which is supposed to resolve use conflicts such as those developing in Dutch Island Harbor. however, nothing has come forward for more than a year and meanwhile aquaculture lease applications (for both new and expanded leases) are coming fast and furious. a SAMP plan was developed for the coastal ponds which set a maximum percentage for aquaculture and the guiding document has greatly helped in the review of lease applications. additionally CRMC is granting leases which effectively eliminate the rights of contiguous land owners to, for instance place a mooring or build a dock.
    the public notification for aquaculture leases is nearly non-existent in that the application is only noticed in the paper with no effort to notify abutters such as would be required for a zoning variance for example. the entire lease approval process is drastically flawed and is not going to facilitate a smooth growth in what is a diamond in the rough industry in the ocean state.

    • Perhaps ecoRI News could have someone more fully investigate this. I see the collaboration with URI in other stories. Maybe someone in the Marine Affairs area could research and report on leasing of areas for aquaculture. I agree a transparent and well thought out process, with consideration for abutters and general public use, is preferred.

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