Letter: Oyster farms could change water access forever

Posted 10/1/21

To the editor:

There is much to discuss about the proposed oyster farms in Seapowet waterway, but I would like to focus on a couple of points. 

* Lack of public input — The process …

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Letter: Oyster farms could change water access forever

Posted

To the editor:

There is much to discuss about the proposed oyster farms in Seapowet waterway, but I would like to focus on a couple of points. 

* Lack of public input — The process of Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to approve oyster farms needs by law to include crucial and meaningful public input.  Feedback from stakeholders was not adequately sought by CRMC for the two current Tiverton oyster farm applications.

* Who are the stakeholders? Those who fish, kayak, swim and recreate in the Seapowet area.  It also includes those walk their dogs along the shore or those who enjoy the magnificent natural beauty of the area by parking their cars and taking in the scenery to decompress from their busy lives.  It includes the property abutters who were not contacted by CRMC and were blindsided about these applications until the 11th hour in the process.

* Change from public benefit to private commercial use — Oyster farms in the Seapowet Wildlife Management area will be effectively permanent.  Oyster farm permits are for 15-year periods and are renewable and transferable. To date, no leases have ever been revoked. Once permitted, many leases are in fact, expanded. Our gem of a coastline will be forever changed for the profit of a few.

* CRMC needs reform — Historically, there has been a lack of communication between the CRMC and the community. The public has repeatedly clashed with CRMC, at times requiring the Attorney General to step in to safeguard the public’s interest.

Until CRMC reforms and the public has an adequate opportunity for input, no decisions should be made on the oyster farm proposals that will forever change the waterscape. CRMC is legally obligated to adhere to its own stated “Public Trust Policy”. This policy states that aquaculture “leasing process must take into consideration what is best for all of the residents of the state” not just a few.

Patty Garber

Tiverton

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