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Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center seeks permit to develop mussel farm off Cape Ann

Published April 23, 2013

CONCORD, Mass. – Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center, Salem State University, is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District to conduct work in waters of the United States in conjunction with developing a mussel farm off Cape Ann, Mass.


The Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center proposes to place structures in navigable waters of the U.S. to establish a commercial scale submerged blue mussel farm in federal waters in the Atlantic Ocean on the outer continental shelf about 8.5 miles off Cape Ann. Mussel longlines will be deployed in strings of 300-foot long header ropes submerged to a depth of 30 feet and anchored to the bottom with block and mushroom anchors. Each longline will have a surface float for visual marking and servicing of lines. Additional submerged floats will be attached as needed along header lines to support the weight of growing mussels.


Each longline corner will be anchored to the bottom with a 2,000-pound concrete block anchor attached to a 600-pound mushroom anchor with chain. A 300-foot header line will be strung between the two corner lines and buoys. This configuration produces a ridged tensioned structure from which up to 100 mussel growout or spat collecting lines are deployed.


The mussels will be grown in cotton bisected socking material. Mussel growlines will be 25 feet long and each growline will hold up to 100 socks spaced about one meter apart. At full scale operation, there will be 20 triplet (end to end) longline strings lying side by side with a space of 60 feet between each triplet longline. The full-scale site will consist of 60 – 300-foot submerged longlines in a 3 by 20 array. Each longline will have 100 – 25-foot socked mussel grow lines hanging below the header ropes.


All surface buoys will be uniformly colored and marked with the Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center logo and phone number. The growline buoys will have highflyer flags attached for visibility. The dimensions of the site will be 1,200 feet by 1,200 feet. Average depth of the site is about 150 feet with a range of 140 – 170 feet.   


The proposed project by Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center will impact 33 acres of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for various species and life stages. This habitat consists of subtidal open water. Loss of this habitat may adversely affect these species. 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 a final permit decision.



The application for the federal permit was filed by Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center with the Corps of Engineers 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 United States. The public notice, with more specifics on the proposed work, can be viewed on the Corps website at


Public comments on this work proposed by Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (file # NAE-2012-1598) should be forwarded no later than May 23, 2013 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Kevin Kotelly), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Kevin Kotelly at 978-318-8703 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to:

Tim Dugan

Release no. 2013-031