Two local shellfish farmers have cleared another hurdle on their way to getting permits for an aquaculture farm in the waters off Monument Beach.
Daniel G. Maurice of Monument Beach and James J. Rossignol of Pocasset received approval for their business during last week’s Bourne Conservation Commission meeting.
“We’re hoping to be able to help to assist with the denitrification of the waters in Bourne and increase the shellfish population at the same time,” Mr. Rossignol said.
Mr. Maurice and Mr. Rossignol’s business would be located 550 feet west of Tobey Island, 4,300 feet southeast of Mashnee Island and 1,700 feet northwest of the mouth of the Pocasset River. It would be the second permitted aquaculture farm in Bourne and adjacent to an oyster farm belonging to Patrick A. Ross and his wife, Jennifer L. Ross, of Gray Gables. In June 2012, the town granted the Rosses a shellfish farm permit for a one-acre parcel 650 feet west of Tobey Island. Last May, the town approved a two-acre expansion of their farm, and in October, the couple reaped the first harvest of their new business, Monk’s Cove Oysters.
The owners of the new shellfish farm were given approval from the Bourne Board of Selectmen last October to move forward with their plans. In addition to last week’s approval from the conservation commission, Mr. Maurice and Mr. Rossignol will have to have their site inspected by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“That’s a state statute, so they will have to dive the site,” town conservation agent Brendan C. Mullaney said.
Mr. Mullaney added there may be other state and federal permits that the two men will have to secure, including approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. There was some question as to whether the two would need approval for moorings or floats under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 91, Section 10A.
Chapter 91 is the state’s waterways licensing program. It regulates all activities on both coastal and inland waterways. Chapter 10A addresses the permitting of temporary moorings “of floats or rafts held by anchors or bottom moorings.”
Mr. Mullaney said that issue would need to be settled before the men can begin farming. He also mentioned that once their shellfish farm has been in operation for a while, it will have to be surveyed by a professional surveyor. Copies of the surveyor’s report will have to be submitted to Mr. Mullaney, town hall, Bourne Department of Natural Resources director Timothy W. Mullen, and the selectmen’s office, Mr. Mullaney said.
“That’s just so that the exact location of it is known for your own purposes and for liabilities for the town, if there ever is an issue in the future,” he said.
Mr. Mullaney said that while there may still be some hurdles to clear, as far as the conservation commission’s review, “it’s met all the standards and the commission can move forward on the project.”
Selectman Peter J. Meier affirmed from the audience that selectmen had previously endorsed the project. Mr. Meier noted that the board would like to see more shellfish programs in Bourne because they could help with some of the nitrogen-loading issues the town is facing at present. He said that they are also another source of commerce and revenue.
“So, they have nothing but praise for this,” he said.
Conservation commission chairman Robert M. Gray gave his own endorsement of the project. Mr. Gray said that around the country, communities are finding that “aquaculture operations provide a significant reduction to nitrogen levels.”
“So I guess good luck,” he said.
The commission voted unanimously to approve Mr. Maurice and Mr. Rossignol’s request for an aquaculture permit.