Commercial Oyster Industry in Beach Cove
In 2013, after intense efforts by the Center for the Inland Bays (CIB), the Delaware legislature enacted a law authorizing aquaculture in Delaware’s inland bays. The CIB created a “Tiger Team’ that met during 2012 and 2013 and issued a final report in March, 2013. There was no representation on the team from neighboring communities. The report identifies Beach Cove to host a 29 acre aquaculture leasing site, with 25 one acre plots. Please note that the CIB report identifies Beach Cove as "Slough's Gut".
Although DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife held two workshops in January and February of 2014, we are not aware of anyone from the surrounding communities being consulted or asked for input about the potential impact of the proposed aquaculture industry.
On May 1, 2014, DNREC published proposed regulations in the Delaware Register of Regulations. The regulations contained the location of the proposed Shellfish Aquaculture Development Areas (SADAs), public notice for comments on the proposed regulations and a hearing was published in the Delaware Register, the News Journal, and the Delaware State News. A notice was also posted on DNREC’s website, in a press release issued May 1, and on DNREC’s Facebook page. A public hearing was held on May 21, 2014 in Lewes. Final Regulations were published August 1 in the Delaware Register of Regulations, effective August 11, 2014. The final regulations and several other background documents may be seen by clicking on the links at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Fisheries/Pages/ShellfishAquaculture.aspx
No adjacent property owners or Homeowner Associations were directly notified that Beach Cove was among the sites to be exploited. It came as a surprise to many of us that the self-contained body of water that makes up Beach Cove would be considered to be a part of Indian River Bay.
The legislation allows up to 5% of the Indian River Bay to be used for aquaculture sites. Of that 5%, nearly a quarter is designated to be located in our small, fragile cove. This industry will consume almost all of the deeper water area frequently used for recreation and navigation.