CONCORD, Mass. – Jonathan McGee, of New England Sea Farms, LLC, in Ivoryton, Connecticut, is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the U.S. in conjunction with installing a kelp farm in Long Island Sound off of Guilford, Connecticut, between Leetes Island and Sachems Head.
The kelp would be grown for culinary uses and be seeded with a state-approved, local source. The kelp, which grows approximately five feet in length, would be grown on four, 500-foot-long lines spaced at least 20 feet apart. The lines would be anchored with appropriate mooring anchors on each end and at the midpoint, and the mooring anchors would be connected to a total of three mooring buoys. Each line would be supported by eleven, 12-inch diameter floating buoys spaced 30-50 feet apart for the purpose of maintaining a horizontal configuration of the line, which is important for the crop yield, and the lines and their orientation will be visible on the surface.
The entire rectangular boundary around the long lines would be marked with six safety aids to navigation (hazard buoys) placed no more than 300 feet apart and supported by mooring anchors. The sides of the rectangular boundary would be no closer than 50 feet from the long line(s).
One long line would be installed in the first year, a second long line would be installed in the second year, and two more long lines would be installed in the third year.
The long lines would be in place from Oct. 1 through May 15 until harvest and then will be removed May 30. The gear would be deployed with the help of a commercial entity (e.g., a local marina crew). The long lines would likely be seeded in November and inspected periodically to monitor line conditions and product growth. After the season, by May 30, the long lines and flotation buoys would be removed from the site and cleaned and repaired. The mooring anchors and buoys would remain in the water.
This proposed project, specifically concrete mooring anchors if selected instead of mushroom anchors, would impact a maximum of 360 square feet of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). This habitat consists mostly of sand with a minimum water depth of 14 feet mean lower low water and 20 feet at mean high water. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect managed fish species with EFH designated through the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. 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 work proposed by New England Sea Farms, LLC, can be viewed on the Corps website at https://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/PublicNotices/.
Public comments on the proposed work by New England Sea Farms, LLC (file # NAE-2018-01057) should be forwarded no later than Dec. 11, 2019 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.