The specter of numerous aquaculture sites in Morgan Bay permeated the first session of a Department of Marine Resources public hearing on March 25 on one proposed site.
“What’s to stop other applicants?” asked Hugh Curran, one of over 50 citizens who filled the Surry Civic Center. “On Goose Pond and the Bagaduce, it’s already happening. Where are the limits?”
“There aren’t a lot of people who are going to put themselves through this kind of mill,” said DMR Aquaculture Administrator Diantha Robinson.
Joe Porada, the Hancock resident who applied to the DMR for permission to lease four acres 2.5 miles north of Jed Island, has weathered two scoping sessions, citizen resistance and a continuing lawsuit over right-of-way use in his effort to see if oysters and quahogs will grow in Morgan Bay. In December he submitted two new applications for contiguous sites of the same size in what he called “a precautionary measure.”
“That would not have happened if Pirozzolo hadn’t dropped a mooring right on the [proposed] site,” Porada said.
If the DMR grants this lease and it turns out to be commercially viable, meaning 50 to 70 percent of the over 600,000 oyster and clam seeds survive to adulthood, Porada will use the additional sites for more aquaculture, he said in a March 26 phone call.
“The stopping point” for aquaculture “is when a lease application doesn’t meet the criteria,” said Robinson.
The DMR bases its decisions on statutory criteria.
Several parties have been granted intervenor status in the DMR decision on Porada’s application, including the Town of Surry and riparian property owners, giving them the right to appeal the DMR decision.
The hearing broke at around 11:30 p.m., and resumed on March 27. The outcome of that meeting was not available by press time.