DNREC Holds Second Shellfish Meeting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC Holds Second Shellfish Meeting

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

LEWES, Del. - Growing shellfish in Delaware is getting closer to a reality. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control held a second public meeting Wednesday to get input on shellfish aquaculture regulations. Gov. Jack Markell passed the bill legalizing shellfish farming last year.

More than 60 people attended the meeting in Lewes to learn about advances in the regulations as well as voice their concerns.

EJ Chalabala works for the Center for Inland Bays, and has been very active in the process of making shellfish farming a successful venture. He said this second meeting is a good chance for DNREC to explain procedures to becoming a oyster farmer.

"I want to see a little more thought and how they're going to do that process and a little bit more about the permitting process," he said.

DNREC leaders did explain the permit process as well as start up costs and how farm sites will be marked in the bays.

Chalabala also said these public meetings are important because they give both shellfish growers and users a chance to provide their input. He said these are the people with experience on making shellfish aquaculture profitable.

Some farmers were concerned about who can get leases. DNREC officials said anyone is allowed to apply for a lease in the bays, even from other states. Delaware residents do not get priority, rather each applicant is evaluated on financial, business and operational criteria.

Some other people were worried about traffic in the inland bays disturbing or being disturbed by shellfish farming. John Knapp was originally against the aquaculture bill all together, and used this meeting to suggest reevaluating farm locations.

"I'm a recreational boater, recreational fisherman, I see the traffic out there in that bay I know what gets used out there on that bay," he said. "There's going to be a lot of conflict when they start putting those oyster farms on the Rehoboth side."

DNREC officials said this is the last public meeting, and they will look at all the attendees comments when writing up final regulations. There will be a formal public hearing in the future.

Officials also said they hope everything will be figured out and open to lessees by mid-year.


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