More aquaculture proposed for GSP
The Shellfish Commission met on Tuesday and discussed a recent application made by Sun Farm Oyster’s owner Chris Warfel to the Coastal Resources Management Council to develop a new aquaculture lease site in the recreation area of the Great Salt Pond.
The commission discussed the various interest groups that should be notified so that they could weigh in on the application at a public hearing held by the CRMC at the end of March. The commission members suggested town committees like the Harbors Committee and Conservation Commission, as well as outside groups like the Committee for the Great Salt Pond and the Block Island Club.
Harbormaster Stephen Land suggested that people who use Andy’s Way for clamming and recreation be notified, though the commission were not sure how to contact those people. The town also plans to contact property owners near the potential lease site.
The commission laid out their stock replenishment goals for 2012. Commission member Jon Grant has ordered 100 bushels of quahogs. The commission decided to seed as many of the quahogs as are ready by the spring. If the company that grows out the quahogs does not have all 100 bushels ready for the spring, they will seed the remainder in the fall.
Grant also ordered 20,000 soft-shell clams, which will be ready around June. The commission will use nets to protect those clams from predators. It hopes the clams will reproduce and help to replenish the soft-shell clam stock in the pond. It approved an additional $800 to purchase the nets.
Finally, Grant said he ordered 25,000 scallops to seed this year. The pond has not had a shortage of scallops this year, but the commission wants to keep the population healthy.
Roger William’s partnership
Vice-chair Lois Bendokas reported on a meeting she and commission member Peter Tweedy had with representatives of Roger Williams University. Bendokis said the university was excited about the possibility of working with the town or school to develop programs for its students on Block Island.
Bendokas mentioned that the town could use an intern from Roger Williams to study the ecology of the pond and possibly to help support the town’s shellfish wardens. The town would have to find housing for the intern and put some money toward paying the student.
The commission liked the idea of working with Roger Williams and asked Bendokis and Tweedy to continue discussions with the school.
Land asked the commission to consider changing the year-end date for year-round licenses from June 15 to mid-May. Land said the town received complaints from people attempting to buy a year-round license early.
Tweedy wondered whether it would be possible to simply have an annual license apply from the day it was purchased until the same day the following year. Land said he wasn’t sure why that wasn’t possible, but suspected it was an issue with the town’s computer system. Land said that he would find out more about the system and return with a recommendation.
The commission voted to accept its budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. The shellfish budget request from the town will hold the same from this year to next, at $19,300. That’s more than offset by the revenue from shellfish licenses, which is estimated at $47,500.
Tweedy also reported that a clammer had noticed an oil sheen in the inner ponds near the Block Island Power Company. Land said those sheens are commonly a natural byproduct of marshy areas, but said he would investigate further.