THE NIANTIC RIVER ESTUARY
Keep Industrial Shellfish Farming Equipment Out of the Niantic River
The Niantic River is a small, shallow estuary where hundreds of families live on both sides of the river in East Lyme and Waterford. The river provides extensive recreational opportunities ranging from boating, paddle boarding and kayaking to bird watching, fishing and personal shellfishing. A thriving tourism industry has been created in the region and many local businesses are sustained by these recreational activities on the river. This could all change with for-profit commercial aquaculture operations in our rivers.
OUR POSITION: INDUSTRIAL AQUACULTURE PUTS OUR RIVER AT RISK
Here in southeastern Connecticut, the Niantic River is a small estuary with significant residential penetration and extensive recreational activities. The Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission (WELSCO) has developed a policy to restore shellfishing in the region, identifying opportunities for experimental projects. We support their efforts when no surface area of the river will be removed from recreational activity and no Type II equipment (visible above the water line) will be utilized.
In the past, WELSCO has supported seeding initiatives to encourage the development of shellfish populations in the river. In recent months, the Commission has discussed exploring these opportunities again. This will pave a smart, transparent way forward.
We urge WELSCO to consider a project that will promote the development of self-sustaining shellfish populations in the river with the goal of benefitting recreational shell fishing and the overall health of our river. In fact, these types of initiatives have been proven successful in other parts of the region, including in the Thames River.
It is critical that any initiative to restore shellfish populations in our river be developed in accordance and full compliance with Harbor Management Plans, WELSCO’s policies, local planning and zoning requirements and public involvement. Any efforts to circumvent local policies and the concerns of the community are wholly inappropriate.
Be informed, get involved.
Say No to Industrial Aquaculture in the Niantic River
- The Niantic River is used for public enjoyment and a range of recreational activities – it is no place for commercial, for-profit ventures. Clearly, there are more appropriate places in our region for commercial shell fishing operations.
- We support restoring and improving local shellfish populations for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. There is no place in our river for large-scale, for-profit commercial aquaculture, which profits one company at the expense of local communities on both sides of the river.
- Any change of use for the waters of the Niantic River must follow the appropriate oversight and the local processes already in place that include town leadership as representatives of the local communities, Harbor Management and the Waterford East Lyme Shellfish Commission (WELSCO.)
- No commercial shellfish venture is appropriate for the Niantic River. Commercial ventures – such as those that have recently been proposed – will have significant impact on the river, residents, visitors and businesses.
- It is critically important that the voice of the neighboring communities, local businesses, and local governing bodies are involved in the decision for how the assets of the river are used. No plan or proposal should go forth without local approvals in adherence with established processes.
THE NIANTIC RIVER ESTUARY
A River at Risk