Letter: Defend your neighbors, fight aquaculture proposal

Posted 6/22/22

To the editor:

Once again, I find myself writing in defense of my Tiverton neighbors, various other local and statewide stakeholders, and the underserved communities impacted by the pending oyster …

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Letter: Defend your neighbors, fight aquaculture proposal

Posted

To the editor:

Once again, I find myself writing in defense of my Tiverton neighbors, various other local and statewide stakeholders, and the underserved communities impacted by the pending oyster farm application proposed to be sited in Public Trust waters at the Sapowet Marsh . Why write again? Because the characterization of all opposition to the application as pure elitism, wealthy out-of-towners, and NIMBYism continues to be the sole narrative presented by the applicants.

What is not clear from the article in the June 16, 2022 Sakonnet Times regarding proposed House Bill HB 8244, is that the applicants narrative is false and disingenuous. The applicants know full well that it is not only Tiverton residents, other statewide stakeholders, and those underserved communities that oppose their Sapowet Marsh application, but also the Rhode Island aquaculture industry, and the Town of Tiverton.

Testimony elicited at the June 7, 2022 committee hearing on HB 8244, presented a complete and utter refutation of the elitism and NIMBY argument set forth by the applicant.

HB 8244 was co-sponsored by Representatives Edwards, McGaw and others, and was proposed in response to the request of Tiverton’s Town Council and supported by the Tiverton Harbor Commission.

In addition, the aquaculture industry opposes the applicant’s proposed location. Dr. Bob Rheault, long-time Executive Director of the East Coast Shellfish Association (ECSA) testified that the state aquaculture association was moved by this recent
application to actually inspect future applications and decide whether to support or oppose them because we believe there are certain applications that are poorly sited that actually damage the industry and we would not support them and we would come out against them. So, this is a very unusual step for an aquaculture association to consider opposing an application, but we believe that this particular application is one of those cases where it’s become such a lightning rod for dissent that we believe it's damaging the ability of serious farmers who have made significant investments to continue to work.

Likewise, written testimony submitted at the hearing by the Ocean State Aquaculture Association (OSAA), in relevant part, said, “ . . .we do not expect the current pending application to be permitted as it is ill sited and has raised significant concerns and protests.” (Emphasis added).

It should also be noted that the OSAA Code of Conduct provides, in part, that any applicant should recognize the importance of good site selection and should act in harmony with surrounding property owners and other users of the marine resources.

Let’s be clear; the opposition to the Sapowet Marsh application is not an issue of NIMBYism as portrayed by the applicants. The applicants must publicly recognize that the aquaculture industry and the Town of Tiverton also oppose them. More importantly, they must recognize that they chose a terrible location that if approved by CRMC would prohibit or severely limit the publics constitutional rights to access and use of one of the last pristine coastal areas of RI.

Donald Libbey

Tiverton

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Media Group team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaymediagroup.com.