THE NIANTIC RIVER ESTUARY
A River at Risk
Industrial shellfish farming (also known as "Type II aquaculture") is the cultivation of oysters in containers that are held above the seafloor and suspended in the water column. This type of "off-bottom" shellfish farming uses extensive gear (including cages, rack-and-bags, trays, and floating and suspended systems that use PVC piping and long lines) that rise above the water line.
Photos of the various types of equipment can be found here.
An actual river aquaculture operation can be seen here.
This kind of industrial farming equipment is new to our region and will have an irreversible, adverse impact on our river, the estuary, property and business values, and the safety of our residents and tourists who visit the region to enjoy the river. While industrial shellfish farming gear may make sense in open waters, it simply isn’t appropriate for a small river that is enjoyed primarily for recreation and in an area that is predominately residential.
No decision should be made about industrial shellfish operations in the river without consideration for the impact on the businesses, residents, the river or our region.
The high visibility and associated markers that go along with the kind of shellfish farming that have been proposed creates unsightly navigational hazards, imposes recreational limitations, and detracts from the natural beauty and accessibility of the river.
In fact, off-bottom oyster-farming equipment is incredibly intrusive. The gear on some industrial shellfishing developments can protrude above the water line, restricting access, creating hazards and preventing recreational activities. For these very reasons, Waterford, Stonington and Branford have, so far, not acceptedthis kind of industrial shellfish operation in their residential communities.
Under one proposal, equipment for a shellfish farm in the Niantic River near Cini Park and Route 156 would include more than 12,000 pieces of gear:
Industrial shellfishing will negatively impact the river and provide little to no environmental benefit. Nor would it benefit towns on either side of the river. Any for-profit, commercial proposal like this must be weighed against the safety concerns and recreational needs of the community, not to mention the economic impacts on business and property values, etc.
Simply put: Other locations, outside of the Niantic River, make more sense for this development.
We need your help.
The process undertaken by the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission – according to the Army Corps of Engineers – identified, then eliminated, six commercial shellfishing lease sites within the river due to a variety of factors including
Recreational shell fishing
Submerged aquatic vegetation
Yet, proposals for commercial shellfishing operations using equipment that will rise above the water line are still being considered.
We must say NO!
Don't risk our river.
The owner of a 62-acre shellfishing operation in the nearby Niantic Bay who is also seeking permission to expand his aquaculture business into the Niantic River, readily admits that expansion plans “may impact boaters’ movement around the river.”
Don't risk our river.