CONCORD, Mass. – Stonington Aquafarms, LLC of 60 Sandpiper Crescent, in Milford, 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 constructing structures to raise shellfish in waters of Fishers Island Sound.
This work is proposed in waters of Fishers Island Sound outside of the Stonington Harbor breakwater at a state of Connecticut shellfish lease identified as Lot 584. The project site is approximately 1,700 feet to the southeast of Wamphassuc Point and will be located 100 feet south of the harbor breakwater.
The first phase of the project will involve the installation of 70 double stack bottom cages approximately 4 feet long by 3 feet wide by 2 feet high attached to horizontal ground lines set in a north-south configuration (10 cages per line) for the rearing of eastern oyster over a 1.66 acre area of the 7.7 acre lease site. Each ground line will be affixed in water depths ranging from 18 feet mean lower low water (MLLW) to 21 feet mean high water (MHW) through the use of two helix-type, embedded screw anchors on either end (total of 14 for the project). Each line, with 10 bottom cages spaced approximately 25 feet apart, will be located for tending and harvest through the use of a single vertical line spliced to one of the anchor lines and affixed to a single Styrofoam flotation buoy (total of 7 line buoys for the 1st phase).
The entire first year gear area will be surrounded by 4 aid to navigation "hazard markers," affixed by chain to helix anchors, spaced at a maximum interval of 300 feet, in conformance with state of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection navigation agency requirement.
At full build-out (Phase 2) the project will consist of up to 400 bottom cages affixed to ground lines in a north-south configuration centered on the 7.7 acre lease Lot 584. The full project will maintain a minimum 25 foot buffer from the submerged aquatic vegetation/eelgrass bed to the west and a 100 foot buffer from the southern side of the Stonington Harbor breakwater.
This proposed project will impact approximately 6 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) which consists of unconsolidated gravel-sand. 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 Stonington Aquafarms, 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 Stonington Aquafarms, LLC (file # NAE-2018-00503) should be forwarded no later than July 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.