Save Our Assawoman

Coalition for Little Assawoman Bay

Don't destroy our bays in order to save them

What we object to is placing plots where they interfere with recreational uses and mandating a forest of markers that both disrupt navigation and destroy the bays’ natural beauty. Who wants to come to a state park for relaxation and find hundreds of acres of actively worked shellfish plots?

Our coalition represents nearly 600 homes and businesses on both sides of Little Assawoman Bay. We are working to craft a solution that will accommodate varied uses while preventing Delaware from destroying its precious bays in order to save them.


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Cultivating Controversy

Bonner would make no prediction about when the Corps will make a decision. Similarly [David] Saveikis isn't making any guesses as to what that decision will be. The Corps could approve the plan with all eight development areas as designed; it could approve just some development areas, or even just some parts of the development areas; or it could reject the whole thing.

Army Corps opens comment period for aquaculture

“Public rights should not be so easily given away for private, commercial uses such as shellfish farms,” said Diane Maddex, president of Water's Edge Condominium Association and founding member of the Coalition for Little Assawoman Bay, which represents 240 property and business owners.... Maddex said the shallow water and poor water quality in Little Assawoman Bay provide inhospitable conditions for growing healthy,
edible shellfish. Opponents have repeatedly said the pipes expected to demarcate leased areas will destroy the vistas that bring tourists to the area. “There are good reasons why clams and oysters haven't grown naturally here in many decades,” Maddex said. “Equally important, placing commercial shellfish farms in the middle of a bay that is now devoted to recreation will destroy this tourism magnet and economic contributor to the state's economy.”

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The speaker of the House

Several citizens [actually about 500] have recently expressed concern about the location of some potential aquaculture sites adopted through the regulations. DNREC is further evaluating the program and its regulations to determine how to address the concerns while affording aquaculturists the ability to operate a viable business.

The next step in the process involves a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a request for aquaculture locations, markings and gear type, after which the state will determine if further refinement of the program is needed.

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Coaltions prepared to fight aquaculture regulations

Currently, the aquaculture issue is in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers, who need to give its permission before the industry can start. The Corps is waiting until after the holidays to open a public comment period, a spokesman said.

The ... Coalition for Little Assawoman, has also been active, according to Diane Maddex. The group has launched a website, where it lists concerns about recreational use, the hours leases will be worked, the shallowness of the bay and oyster diseases.



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Not exactly buried treasure

An Inverness activist’s underwater videos reveal that cleaning up Drakes Estero after eight decades of commercial oyster cultivation is a bigger job than meets the eye on the wind-rippled surface of the 2,500-acre estuary in Point Reyes National Seashore....

The National Park Service, at taxpayer expense, is obliged to manage the rest of the cleanup, including the racks and any other shellfish harvesting equipment or debris in the water. The government hasn’t estimated the cost; Lunny said in a court declaration it would cost him more than $400,000 to remove the oyster racks with his own employees.

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Does anyone have answers to these questions?

What possibly fooled the 200 citizens who attended the Oct. 6 meeting in the Millville fire house into thinking that proposed aquaculture in Beach Cove and Little Assawoman Bay would not consist of many acres of unsightly floating plastic baskets and a maze of rigid PVC pipes extending above the water surface that would interfere with recreational power boating, sail boating, kayaking, windsurfing, waterskiing and paddleboarding? ...

Another State web site, which contains a synopsis of the bill (introduced on June 4, 2013), reaffirms that: “This bill is designed to minimize conflicts with existing uses of the Inland Bays.” ( /vwlegislation/5FA45ACF1EDC76AB8... )

It is suspected that this statement not only misled the public, but also many State legislators, such as Sen. Gerald Hocker, who has claimed that he was unaware of the locations of the proposed Inland Bays’ oyster farms and their objectionable appearance when the permitting legislation was voted upon.

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How appropriate is it to convert public lands to private use?

Although highly optimistic claims have been made that proposed shellfish aquaculture will eventually generate millions of dollars in revenue, only “estimates” of the economic and environmental benefits of aquaculture apparently have been made. It appears that no thorough legitimate cost-benefit analysis has been conducted.

Not addressed is the appropriateness of converting otherwise freely used public lands into restricted areas for the benefit of private (for profit) use – even by out-of-state commercial entities. The proposed oyster farms will constitute a detriment to the public's right to freely use Bay waters. Moreover, in addition to the area restrictions, the proposed oyster farms will result in both the visual degradation of an otherwise scenic area (visual pollution) and the introduction of compromises to public safety.

Irrespective of whatever amount of benefit is derived from oyster filtering action in the highly tidally flushed Inland Bays, it is disturbing that the Delaware legislature voted unanimously to establish an unsightly disruptive commercial oyster farming industry in the picturesque Inland Bays. One would have hoped that, although oyster farming does not meet the legal definition of “heavy industry,” the legislature would have been guided by the fundamental purpose of the Coastal Zone Act (CZA), which expresses the state’s desire to “protect the natural environment of its bay and coastal areas and safeguard their use primarily for recreation and tourism.” The CZA acknowledges that, “While it is the declared public policy of the State to encourage the introduction of new industry into Delaware, the protection of the environment, natural beauty and recreation potential of the State is also of great concern." Steve Callanen

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Berlin, Maryland, requires that aquaculture be a special exception

The Worcester County commissioners voted 4–3 to change aquaculture from a permitted use to one requiring a special exception in areas with estate zoning after a lengthy discussion centering on the South Point community....

Resident Ellen Zajac said members of the community didn't want large commercial aquaculture operations set up there and would have the opportunity to object if they were only allowed by special exception. "We feel it's appropriate and provides property owners with a venue to voice their concerns," she said....

Commissioner Jim Purnell ... said he doubted anyone would want to live next door to the aquaculture operation and introduced the motion to pass the legislaton. Charlene Sharpe, Maryland Coast Press

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Shortsightedness jeopardizing tourism

Tourism represents one of our major economic drivers.

That’s why it’s particularly disturbing to drive into state parks around the Inland Bays and see signs posted such as these at the Savages Ditch kayak-launching area. One sign makes it abundantly clear it’s neither safe nor legal to take and consume shellfish from nearby waters. The other uses a lot more language to explain the waters can be unsafe for swimming due to pollution, especially after heavy rain events.

Neither additional regulations to require adequate buffers nor additional taxes to remedy infrastructure problems get much traction these days. But this shortsightedness can only hurt the tourism economy that depends on healthy natural resources.

We are spoiled when it comes to taxes.

Because of the wise decisions of generations before us, more than 30 percent of our state’s operating revenues come from outside our borders in the form of corporate franchise taxes and abandoned corporate property.

We can certainly bear to pay a little more to clean up our environment so we can remove signs like these, and still live in one of the tax friendliest states in the country.

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Improper notice is reason to reverse shellfishing designation

Just imagine... if Sussex County were proposing to install an industrial food processing operation in your residential neighborhood, directly across the street from your home, just 200 feet from your property.

Quite appropriately, there would be a large, bright yellow sign announcing the proposal. It would include a diagram of the proposed site, a description of its proposed use, a phone number to call for more information and an announcement of public hearings at which you would be welcome to express your opinions about the land use proposal.

None of that happened when the State of Delaware announced, without posted public notice, its installation of an industrial food processing operation the same distance from my house, in Beach Cove, surrounded by residential neighborhoods containing almost 300 homes. (A similar situation occurred in a residential neighborhood of Assawoman Bay.) Guest column by Ralph Begleiter

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Compatible with boating navigation and safety and public water access and use?

(a) The Department [DNREC] is authorized to adopt, promulgate, amend and repeal regulations consistent with Titles 7 and 29 of Delaware code which shall be enforced by the Department for the following purposes:

(2) To identify areas where shellfish aquaculture leases may be established that are compatible with commercial and recreational finfishing and shellfishing, boating navigation and safety, public water access and use, and native biota.  House Bill 160, June 2013

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COALITION FOR LITTLE ASSAWOMAN BAY, FENWICK ISLAND, DE 19944   703-606-1344   302-249-5879

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