Selectmen approve 2-acre oyster farm in Wareham River

Oct 24, 2017

A request for a 2-acre “shellfish grant” in the Wareham River received Selectmen approval Monday night despite calls from abutters for more time to vet the proposal.

Philip Chiaraluce of Wareham asked for the grant, which allows him to cultivate oysters in the river. The oyster farm will be located off shore near Edgewater Drive and Long Beach Road. Chiaraluce said he plans to eventually set up 100 floating cages in the river to grow oysters for sale.

Several spoke in favor of the proposal during Monday’s public hearing, saying the town has a long history of supporting shellfishermen, but others said approval would hamper their access to the Wareham River channel and also mar their view.

“This will impede navigation to the channel from my land,” said Stuart Woodward, of Long Beach Road. He noted that his grandparents bought the property in 1920.

Wareham’s Director of Natural Resources Department Garry Buckminster presented the application to selectmen. He said that the grant would not obstruct any navigable channel.

Selectmen had limited time for the hearing. The board’s meeting started at 6:15 p.m. in the high school’s cafeteria and Town Meeting was set to being at 7 p.m. in the high school’s auditorium.

Dianne Bonner, an Edgewater Drive resident, said balancing recreation against the rights of those looking to cultivate shellfish had to be weighed. She said 45 minutes wasn’t enough time to discuss the matter and urged board members to set aside the issue for now.

Board members declined and unanimously approved the grant.

Chair Peter Teitelbaum said state law has long favored the rights of people to cultivate shellfish.

“There have been laws regulating shellfish in Massachusetts since the 1640s,” said Teitelbaum. “We have a traditional bias in the law for the raising and cultivation of shellfish.”