Aquaculture and Recreation Vie for Salt Pond Use

By LEIGH VINCOLA | Courtesy of ecoRI News 

Rhode Island’s aquaculture industry is on a steady rise, and people with a vested interest in salt ponds have expressed concern about the proper management of aquaculture farm leases.

Once an aquaculture farm is set, the area can’t be utilized for other purposes. While the general sentiment across the state, both within and outside of marine industries, is that aquaculture is good for the economy, resistance has come from certain groups who are accustomed to enjoying the salt ponds without restrictions.

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is the agency responsible for managing all leases and it’s receiving plenty of proposals for the salt ponds. Currently, there are 30 leases in the ponds, and CRMC receives seven or eight new applications a year. Under CRMC regulations, only 5 percent of any salt pond can be leased to aquaculture at one time…

In late March, a community discussion presented by the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan, 60 coastal homeowners gathered to discuss how to navigate their rights within a growing shellfish farming industry happening in their backyard. Tracey Dalton, professor of marine affairs at the University of Rhode Island also spoke about the topic April 12 as part of Rhode Island Sea Grant’s Ocean State Discussion Series. To investigate the “perceptions of aquaculture,” Dalton conducted a study to determine what influences cause people to support or oppose the industry. Her findings showed that a high percentage of those surveyed — coastal property owners were targeted — believe that the presence of aquaculture farms spoils the beauty of the ponds and inhibits navigation for boaters.

 

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