CONCORD, Mass. – Atlantic Clam Farms of Connecticut, LLC, of 71 Byram Road, #1, in Greenwich, Conn., is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District for work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with placing structures to grow seaweed (kelp) in Long Island Sound.
This work is proposed in waters of Long Island Sound, in an area identified as Payea Reach approximately 3,400 feet southeast of Great Captains Island, 980 feet southwest of Island Beach, 4,380 feet west of Green Gong “1”, and 6,356 feet east of Red Nun “2”. The project is proposed to be undertaken at Department of Agriculture state-issued lease identified as 2016-SW#10/L-481 in the vicinity of NAD83.
The proposed work involves the installation of lines, buoys, anchors and aids to navigation for the commercial cultivation of a winter crop of native sugar kelp. Gear installation at the 4.3 acre area will commence on/after Nov. 1 and the crop harvest and lines will be removed by June 1 of each calendar year. The gear to be deployed will be set in a 600-foot long by 340-foot wide area.
The purpose of the proposed structures is to grow seaweed (kelp) as a harvestable crop for human consumption and commercial distribution.
The regulated activities involve the installation of seven, 500-foot-long lines anchored at each end and in the middle with concrete anchors, for a total of six anchors per longline and 42 anchors for the entirety of the project. The gear will be set in water depths of 28 to 33 feet mean lower low water (MLLW) and 35 to 40 feet mean high water (MHW). Each anchor line will be attached to a 24-inch surface float with 5/8 inch sinking (vertical) poly rope (for a total of 21, 24-inch buoys). Between the pair of terminal anchors will be affixed a 500-foot-long horizontal seaweed growing line made from 3/8-inch sinking poly line, strung at approximately 5 feet below the water’s surface. Along each of the 500-foot-long lines, there will be between 8 and 15, 12-inch diameter black buoys (for a project maximum of 112, 12-inch flotation buoys), to accommodate the weight of the growing seaweed throughout the growing season. There will be a minimum of 40 feet of space between each of the set longlines.
Once the horizontal growing lines are seeded in November, the gear areas will be tended at least once a week. Additionally, once a month each line will be hauled in and checked for warp and headline depth. Buoys will be incrementally added/shifted throughout the growing season to accommodate the increasing weight of the seaweed to ensure adequate buoyancy and line tension. They will be maintained such that there is a minimum clearance of five feet between the growing seaweed and the estuary bottom at MLLW. In addition, the gear area will be marked by six “aid to navigation” buoys that read “Danger Surface Gear Area” spaced at a maximum interval of 300 feet, per state of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection navigation agency requirement. After the last harvest of the season in May the horizontal long-line gear and buoys will be removed and brought to a land-based facility for inspection and/or repair as needed. The aids to navigation and moorings will remain in the water throughout the year to designate the lease location.
This project will impact approximately 4.3 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) that has been designated through the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. This habitat consists of subtidal bottom of gravel/gravel-sand in open water of Payea Reach. Temporary obstruction or modification of subtidal habitat may adversely affect species that use these waters and substrate. However, the Corps has made a preliminary determination that the site-specific adverse effect will not be substantial. Further consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding EFH conservation recommendations is being conducted and will be concluded prior to the final permit decision.
The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work by Atlantic Clam Farms of Connecticut, LLC, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx. The application for the federal permit was filed with the Corps in compliance with Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act, which provides for federal regulation of any work in, or affecting navigable waters of the U.S.
Public comments on this work proposed by Atlantic Clam Farms of Connecticut, LLC (file # NAE-2017-02083) should be forwarded no later than Jan. 19, 2018 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Cori Rose), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Cori Rose at 978-318-8306 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.