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Thimble Island Oyster Company seeks Corps permit to install structures to raise shellfish in Branford

Published April 17, 2018

CONCORD, Mass. – The Thimble Island Oyster Company of 43 East Pearl Street in New Haven, 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 installing structures to raise shellfish in Branford, Conn. This work is proposed in Jarvis Creek approximately 330 feet north of the existing tide gate and 230 feet south of the railroad right-of-way in Branford.


The purpose of the proposed structures is to grow eastern oysters from seed to 3 inches in size suitable for commercial shellfish market distribution.


The proposed work involves the installation of up to 300, 36-inch long by 20-inch wide by 6-inch high shellfish rearing bags (each with two floats during the summer) affixed to a 350-foot 3/8-inch neutrally-buoyant (floating) line with a strength of 2,700 pounds, configured in a north-south direction on the outer edge of the Jarvis Creek. Each line will have up to 75 bags, spaced at more than one foot apart. The 350-foot long bag strings will be anchored on each end with a 35.7 pound weight that will be marked with a 12-inch terminal buoy.


The bags will remain floating on the surface during the growing season, estimated to be April through October of the calendar year. Water depths at the site are estimated at 8.3 feet mean low water and 14.2 feet mean high water. Then the flotation buoys will be removed from the bags and they will be sunk to the bottom of Jarvis Creek for the winter season, estimated to be November through March of the calendar year, to avoid ice damage. The gear will be kept a minimum of 7.5 feet from the edge of the creek and the adjacent tidal wetlands.


When the shellfish reach a marketable size, they will be relayed to existing, previously authorized, bottom cages outside of Jarvis Creek at state shellfish lease 551 for depuration (cleansing) in accordance with State Department of Aquaculture requirements.


The total project will have a gear area of one acre and include 300 bags configured in four lines of 75 bags, eight anchors, eight terminal anchor buoys, and 600 bag-flotation buoys approximately 24-inches long by 4-inches wide. In addition, the gear area will be marked, as required by the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection navigation agency requirement with "aid to navigation" buoys.


This project will impact 2,880 square feet of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists of unconsolidated silt/sand bottom. Loss of this 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 the Thimble Island Oyster Company, 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 the Thimble Island Oyster Company (file # NAE-2016-02263) should be forwarded no later than May 17, 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: cori.m.rose@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 18-031