Public Comment Period on Aquaculture Ends in Sussex Co. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Public Comment Period on Aquaculture Ends in Sussex Co.

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OCEAN VIEW, Del.- In Sussex County, the people have spoken, but their message is still unclear.

On Monday, a month-long public comment period came to a close, over whether or not aquaculture should be allowed in the Delaware Bays.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control suggested setting up 422 one-acre plots across the bays, and now the Army Corp of Engineers will have the final say. Leading up to their decision, more than 300 people sent in comments during the public comment period.

One of those people is David Green, who joined WBOC at Beach Cove on Monday morning. Green said that he was very concerned with DNREC's proposal, saying the Aquafarms will hurt the way of life of many people in his community.

"It would eliminate the ability of a large portion of the residents of Beach Cove to use it in the way they have for decades," he said.

Green said there are plenty of environmental concerns, which accompany the two largest worries, centering on the loss of recreational and aesthetically pleasing water.

The concern is similar down at the Little Assawoman Bay, where another coalition has formed to combat the proposal. Green said that many neighbors are not against the idea of aquaculture. They just think it should be set up elsewhere.

"We think that the Center for Inland Bays failed to do the due diligence necessary," he said. "To determine the human uses of this cove. We've got evidence of it and we're submitting it to the Army Corp of Engineers."

Advocates for the program said there are a plethora of positives with the program. John Ewart, an Aquaculture and Fisheries Specialist for the Sea Grant of Delaware said that these oysters can go a long way in cleaning up the pollution in the bay. Under conservative estimates, one oyster can filter 30 gallons of water each day, according to Ewart.

Ewart also said that aquaculture could mean a brand new multi-million dollar industry. Ewart said it would be reasonable for Delaware to replicate the industry in Rhode Island, which currently has a $5 million industry.

Waterman Steve Friend would be one of those people to directly benefit. He has invested more than $46,000 into equipment, which he said he will use to farm for oysters and clams. 

"That's where it's frustrating," Friend said. "Because the governor said last July that we would be hopefully putting in oysters. And having it going and everything. And I've been building cages and still have wire that I haven't built. But it's just frustrating to put all this money together and it's still an ongoing fight. And I think it's just - it's sad."

The Army Corp of Engineers said there is no timetable as to when a decision will be made. They have the ability to call for a public hearing if they deem it necessary.
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