CONCORD, Mass. –LionMind Ventures, LLC, of Mystic, 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 kelp in waters of Fishers Island Sound.
This work is proposed in waters of Fishers Island Sound, 2,500 feet northwest of "Ellis Reef," 2,000 feet northeast of "Eelgrass Ground," approximately 1.3 nautical miles from Ram Island and 0.5 nautical miles from Fishers Island Bell. The project is proposed to be undertaken at Department of Agriculture state-issued 10-acre lease identified as 2016-SW#17.
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. The initial gear installation at the 3.9 acre area will commence on/after Oct. 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 280-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 10, 500-foot-long lines anchored at each end with 500- pound pyramid anchors on the end and in the middle anchor, for a total of 3 anchors (1,500 pounds) per longline and 30 anchors for the entire project. The gear will be set in water depths of 28 feet mean lower low water (MLLW) and 32 feet mean high water (MHW). The two outer anchor chains will consist of 0.5 inch mooring chain attached to 16-inch diameter white mooring buoys (20 white buoys in total). The center anchor of each longline will be attached to 5/8-inch sinking (vertical) line connected to a 12-inch diameter black flotation buoy.
The horizontal kelp seed line (1/2-inch diameter poly line) will be set horizontally between the terminal anchors. Each seaweed longline will be held in place approximately 5-feet below the water's surface by up to nine (9) flotation buoys spaced at an approximate interval of 50-feet (for a maximum number of total of 90, 12-inch flotation buoys). The purpose of these buoys is to accommodate the weight of the developing seaweed throughout the growing season. The applicant proposes to set the longlines in an east to west configuration, with a minimum of 20 feet of space between each of the set longlines.
Once the horizontal growing lines are seeded with kelp, 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. The horizontal lines will be maintained such that there is a minimum clearance of 5 feet between the growing seaweed and the estuary bottom at MLLW. In addition, the gear area will be marked by 6 "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 (sometime between mid-May and June 1) 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.
The proposed project will impact approximately 120-square feet 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 Fishers Island Sound. 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 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. The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work by LionMind Ventures, LLC, can be viewed on the Corps website at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/PublicNotices.aspx.
Public comments on this work proposed by LionMind Ventures, LLC (file # NAE-2018-01830) should be forwarded no later than Oct. 3, 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.