Wareham Selectmen approve shellfish aquaculture moratorium

May 2, 2018

No new shellfish aquaculture permits will be issued until October after Selectmen approved a temporary moratorium on Tuesday, effective immediately.

Harbormaster Garry Buckminster approached Selectmen with the request. Buckminster said he wants to review the town’s current regulations, speak with stakeholders and address potential concerns related to aquaculture, which is the farming of fish or shellfish. He noted Wareham has a large amount of acreage dedicated to aquaculture compared to surrounding towns.

“Marion has two acres of aquaculture farms, Bourne has eight acres,” said Buckminster. “We have a total of 70 acres. So, we are by far the largest town for aquaculture, aside from Wellfleet and some larger Cape communities.”

Buckminster said he approached state officials with a request to help review the town’s current aquaculture sites and determine what spots might be good candidates for future permits. He noted that resident concerns will also be taken into account.

The moratorium is timely, Buckminster said, in light of a recent agenda item that failed at the April 23 Town Meeting. Petitioners wanted to see notices mailed out to every person living within a quarter-mile radius of proposed aquaculture sites. The intent was to notify those living nearby about public hearings regarding the sites. Petitioners said a recently approved aquaculture site was disruptive and they didn’t find out about a scheduled public hearing until after approval.

Currently, the town is required to post aquaculture hearings in three public places and in a newspaper.

Selectmen agreed with Buckminster’s request and unanimously approved the moratorium.