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Best Management Practices for theShellfish Culture Industry inSoutheastern Massachusetts(Version 09-04a)Developed by:Massachusetts shellfish growersin collaboration withthe SouthEastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Centerwith support provided by the MassachusettsDepartment of Agricultural Resources and theUSDA Risk Management AgencyCompiled & Edited by:Dale F. LeavittSEMAC & Roger Williams UniversityBristol, RI 02809

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsTABLE OF CONTENTSTable of n to the BMP Manualix1) Site selection and access11-1) Legal association with adjoining uplands31-2) Access to site51-3) Layout and placement of nets and other gear71-4) Habitat91-5) Other users132) Materials, operations, and maintenance152-1) Sediment management172-2) Onsite deployment and storage of gear212-3) Onsite equipment management232-4) Preparing for winter conditions252-5) Use and management of netting272-6) Controlling biofouling on submerged surfaces313) Improvement of shellfish survival and productivity333-1) Performance selection to improve productivity353-2) Minimizing crop loss from predators393-3) Environmental considerations43Version 09-04aPage i

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern Massachusetts4) Disease prevention and management474-1) Impact of shellfish diseases494-2) Transporting shellfish535) Maintenance of environmental quality575-1) Water quality595-2) Minimizing harmful chemical exposures635-3) Introduction of exotic aquatic species655-4) Remediation of eutrophication675-5) Management of water flow716) Glossary737) Appendix 1: Shellfish aquaculture: In praise of sustainableeconomies and environments.8) Appendix 2: (MGL Chapter 130 Sections 57-67)79859) Appendix 3: U.S. Army Corps of EngineersGeneral Programmatic Permit for Massachusetts9110) Appendix 4: 2004 Crop Insurance Fact Sheet:Clams - Pilot Program9511) Appendix 5: Contact information for aquacultureprofessionals in southeastern MassachusettsVersion 09-04aPage ii99

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsForwardThe shellfish farming industryShellfish farming in southeasternMassachusetts entails the husbandry ofall or part of the life cycle of variousbivalve mollusc species for the purposeof generating a harvestable andmarketable product. The principalspecies reared in the area includesquahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) andoysters (Crassostrea virginica). Otherspecies are also cultured at a smallerscale in the region, including, but notlimited to, soft shell clams (Myaarenaria), bay scallops (Argopectenirradians), surf clams (Spisulasolidissima) and European oysters(Ostrea edulis). Shellfish farming ispracticed by the coastal municipalitiesof southeastern Massachusetts forrestoration and restocking as well as byprivate individuals for economic gain.It has a local history of activity datingback to colonial days where King’sGrants were awarded to privateindividuals for propagating oysters.Aquaculture crops, particularlyshellfish that are farmed in intertidaland shallow subtidal locations, utilizerelatively small areas of the tidal flatsbut are highly valuable and require“Shellfish aquaculture is a privilegeand not a right.”Robert Wallace – Shellfish FarmerCo-President; Massachusetts AquacultureAssociationintensive skilled management. Thetotal area under cultivation for clamsand oysters in the southeasternMassachusetts area is approximately1,000 acres (in 2000). This representsabout 9.2% of the total tidal flat area onCape Cod (Massachusetts Departmentof Environmental Protection – 1995Wetland Mapping) but cannot overlap,by statute (M.G.L. Chapter 130), withthe 10,500 acres of productive shellfishbeds on Cape Cod.In 1996, the landed value of theshellfish farmed in southeasternMassachusetts was in excess of 4.5million in reported income. However,shellfish aquaculture has a muchbroader economic impact, in excess of 15.5 million, based on an economicstudy of the soft shell clam industry inCasco Bay, Maine (Heinig et al. 1995)Version 09-04aPage iii

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsRegulation of shellfish farmingShellfish farming is licensed bythe local municipality, theMassachusetts Division of MarineFisheries (Mass. General Law –Chapter 130, Sections 57 through 67;included as Appendix 2) and the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (Section 10of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899;and Section 404 of the Clean WaterAct through the Massachusetts GeneralProgrammatic Permit; included asAppendix 3). Licenses and area leasesare awarded to individuals either topropagate shellfish, i.e. possess andcultivate sub-legal size shellfish whilemarketing only legal size shellfish(referred to as a Propagation Permit),or to aquaculture shellfish, i.e. possess,grow and market sub-legal and legalsize shellfish (referred to as anAquaculture Permit). Table 1 outlines ageneralized version of the stepsrequired to acquire a license forshellfish farming. Due toMassachusetts "home rule", wheretowns set their own regulations foraquaculture licensing, eachmunicipality may vary somewhat fromthis generalized scenario.Most of the shellfish producedby farmers in southeasternMassachusetts are used or consumeddirectly by the end user with little to noprocessing. The MA Department ofPublic Health and the MA Division ofMarine Fisheries, in collaboration withthe Interstate Shellfish SanitationWithout clean water and a healthyenvironment, the shellfish farmer isout of business!Conference (ISSC), oversee shellfishtransport and sales. Today’s regulatoryenvironment, along with theconsumer’s expectations, is verydemanding. They want the highproduct quality that is associated withfarmed crops, including consistentflavor and reduced risk ofcontamination. At the same time,regulators, consumers and the generalpublic are concerned about theenvironmental and social impacts ofaquaculture.Shellfish farming and theenvironmentSustainability andcompetitiveness are key words to allindividuals involved in aquaculture.Growers must be efficient inproduction to stay competitive. Theymust conserve and protect waterquality and sustain the environment toremain viable. Without clean waterand a healthy environment, theshellfish farmer is out of business!Shellfish farming alsocontributes to improving water quality.This aspect of shellfish farming isthoroughly discussed in an editorialincluded as Appendix 1.Version 09-04aPage iv

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsTable 1: an overview of the general procedure for acquiring a shellfish aquaculture licensein Massachusetts.Research species &technologyDecision to apply for a shellfishculture licenseIdentify potentialfarm siteInformal consultation with localshellfish constablePrepare applicationFormally apply to town forlicensePublic hearing heldTown governing body givesconditional approvalMA-DMF siteinspectionMA Division of MarineFisheries approvalFederal agencyconsultations(NMFS, EPA, etc)MA-DMF issueslicenseU.S. Army Corps of EngineersapprovalTown governing body providesfinal approvalVersion 09-04aPage v

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsShellfish farmers are neighborsto many other users of the intertidaland shallow subtidal environment and,as such, they must be sensitive to theneeds and expectations of theirneighbors to minimize potentialconflicts or detrimental interactions. Attimes, these realities appear to conflictbut in truth they are complementary.Good neighbor policies coupled withhigh water quality within a healthyenvironment will make localaquaculture crops more competitive intoday’s markets. If these considerationsare coupled with practices that increasecrop productivity, then everyone wins,including the public, other coastalusers, and the shellfish growers.Shellfish farming BMPsShellfish Aquaculture BestManagement Practices (BMPs) are aset of voluntary procedures that havebeen developed by the Massachusettsshellfish aquaculture industry incollaboration with the SouthEasternMassachusetts Aquaculture Center(SEMAC) to address areas whereattention should be focused to improveproduction while preserving theenvironment. The intent of a BMP is toprovide information on “normalindustry practices” to help growers tofarm profitably and in harmony withtheir neighbors and the surroundingenvironment. To be considered a bestmanagement practice, an action mustmaintain or increase crop productionThere is no single best managementpractice for all shellfish crops at allsites. Therefore, the best practice forany individual grower will depend onsite-specific circumstances,economic opportunities andenvironmental considerations.while minimizing impact on theenvironment, i.e. promotesustainability. In the case of farmedshellfish, this means using goodmanagement so that the crop isproperly managed and healthy. There isno single best management practice forall shellfish crops at all sites.Therefore, the best practice for anyindividual grower will depend on sitespecific circumstances, economicopportunities and environmentalconsiderations.The Best Management PracticesManual for Shellfish Growers inSoutheastern Massachusetts has beendesigned with a number of targetaudiences in mind. The primaryaudience is the members of theshellfish aquaculture industry, bothexperienced and novice. Many of theaccepted farming techniques developedby the shellfish growers haveoriginated from individual trial anderror experimentation. As such, there isno common clearinghouse for besttechnologies, as most of the industryknowledge has been passed by word ofVersion 09-04aPage vi

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern Massachusettsmouth. This manual strives to identifyand describe the best availabletechnologies for specific managementconsiderations in shellfish farming withan emphasis on sustaining acceptableproduction levels in concert withpositive or benign impacts on theenvironment. A second audience thatwill find this manual useful is policymakers. Massachusetts “Home Rule”dictates that the management ofshellfish aquaculture is theresponsibility of the Town Council orBoard of Selectmen. In many cases,there is a lack of understanding as towhat technologies exist for shellfishfarmers and how those technologiesshould be overseen at a local level.Therefore, this manual will providefactual information to Selectmen orother local management agencies, aswell as state and federal regulators, asto the best available technology formanaging a shellfish farm. Lastly, thereis a desire of many individuals in thepublic sector to understand the nuancesof shellfish aquaculture. We hope thepublic too will learn about shellfishaquaculture through this manual andtheir new knowledge will allow them tobe conversant with the industry interms of the industry’s needs andlimitations.In conclusion, it is important tonote that this current Best ManagementPractices Manual for the southeasternMassachusetts shellfish aquacultureindustry should be considered a “livingdocument”. Publication of the Manualhas been arranged in a loose-leafformat with the intention that sectionsof the Manual will be replaced as bettertechnology and/or practices becomeavailable.Version 09-04aPage vii

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsAcknowledgmentsThis document has beendeveloped through the efforts of a largegroup of individuals who are interestedin the sustainable growth of theshellfish aquaculture industry insoutheastern Massachusetts.Support for the publication anddistribution of this document wasprovided by the New England SmallFarm Institute, the MassachusettsDepartment of Agricultural Resourcesand the University of Massachusettsthrough a cooperative agreement withthe USDA Risk Management Agencyfor crop insurance education.Important contributors included:The SEMAC BMP Committee:Bill BurtBill ClarkLee DavisRuss DeContiJoel FoxDick KrausDale LeavittHenry LindDennis MurleyDiane MurphyBob WallaceScoping Workshop Coordinator:Sandy MacfarlaneInitial Research Team:Horsley Witten GroupExternal Reviewers (Draft 1):Mark Begley – Shellfish farmerJoe Buttner – NEMACScott Soares – MA-DARBill Walton – Shellfish constableExternal Reviewers (Draft 2):Phil Colarusso – US EPAJim Fair – MA DMFNancy Findlay – US NPSKevin Kotelly – USACETara Nye – APCCJerome Moles – MA DMFRobert Prescott – Mass.AudubonCori Rose – USACEMichael Sheehan – USACESteven Tucker – Cape CodCommissionVersion 09-04aPage viii

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsIntroduction to the BMP ManualThe overall strategy foridentifying and addressing activitiesimportant as Best ManagementPractices (BMPs) is to consider boththe impact the BMP will have on farmproduction as well as its impact onsystems and issues ancillary to theculture business. Setting industrystandards can identify better shellfishproduction methods, such as optimalconstruction and operation of nurseryraceways, improved planting andharvesting, reduced losses due topredation, minimized biofouling, andetc. BMPs can also recommendpractices that minimize the overallenvironmental impact that the cultureeffort may have, including minimizingthe risk for marine animalentanglement, reducing disturbance tomigratory shorebirds, or generatingbetter neighbor-to-neighbor relationswith other coastal resource users. Theoverall effect is intended to be animproved atmosphere within which thegrower can operate their businessprofitably, insurance of optimalenvironmental conditions to maximizeproduction of the farm with minimalenvironmental impacts, and ultimatelyincreased profits to the farmer.This document has identifiedfive separate categories of standardpractices. They are1. Site selection and access,2. Materials, operations andmaintenance,3. Improvement of shellfishsurvival and productivity,4. Disease prevention andmanagement, and5. Maintenance of environmentalquality.All five categories have beensubdivided into managementconsiderations that are related tospecific operating practices.The overall format employed inthis manual for each managementpractice is: identify the managementconsideration, provide background informationexplaining the rationale behind theselection of the consideration, identify the regulatory authorityhaving oversight at the federal andstate level, including only thoseregulations that address theenvironment under which thegrower must conduct their business.For a more in-depth overview ofMassachusetts laws and regulationsaddressing aquaculture, please referto the MA-CZM’s MassachusettsVersion 09-04aPage ix

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern MassachusettsAquaculture White Paper - Legaland Regulatory Issues (http://www.mass.gov/czm/WPMLGLRG.HTM)Municipal regulations andordinances have not been includedin this section as they vary amongmunicipalities and are beyond thescope of this document tosummarize. Local laws have beensummarized in: Raddatz, A.K.1998. Commercial shellfishaquaculture in Mass.: a localregulatory perspective. M.A. Thesis,Dept. Urban and Env. Policy, TuftsUniversity, Medford, MA.) provide a list of recommended bestmanagement practices thatexemplify current industrystandards or practices and thatdemonstrate the best availableapproach to management.Additional information has beenincluded at the end of the Manual. Anyterms unique to shellfish aquacultureappear in bold type the first time theyappear in the text and are included inthe glossary at the end of the manual.In addition, numerous Appendices areincluded to provide information toexisting and prospective shellfishfarmers.The Appendices include: A published manuscript detailingthe economic and environmental benefits of shellfish farming(Appendix 1),The complete text of MGL Chapter130, Section 57 defining the currentstate laws addressing shellfishaquaculture (Appendix 2),The complete text of theProgrammatic General Permitspecific for shellfish aquacultureawarded to Massachusetts by theU.S. Army Corp of Engineers(Appendix 3),Information on the hard clam cropinsurance program available toMassachusetts clam farmers fromthe USDA Risk ManagementAgency (Appendix 4),A list of contacts for individuals insoutheastern Massachusetts able toprovide technical assistance to clamfarmers (Appendix 5).It must be emphasized at thisjuncture that not all BMPrecommendations are appropriate forall sites growing all species. Shellfishaquaculture is a site- and speciesspecific phenomenon and therefore thebest technology for maintaining orenhancing production will varybetween sites and crops. Toaccommodate this observation, wehave tried to identify, wheneverpossible, those differences as theyoccur in the document.Version 09-04aPage x

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern Massachusetts1) Site selection and accessThe selection of an appropriatesite for growing shellfish hasramifications throughout all aspects offarm management. From meeting thebiological needs of the growingmollusc through maintaining ambientwater quality at a level defined for thesafe consumption of shellfish products,to assuring that your neighbors areagreeable and cooperative with yourefforts, proper site selection can makeor break your efforts.It is important to mention thatthe overall siting of shellfish farmingactivities is controlled by theclassification of the local waters.Shellfish can only be raised and/orharvested from waters “Approved” bythe Massachusetts Division of MarineFisheries and the Department of PublicHealth, based on standardsrecommended by the InterstateShellfish Sanitation Conference(ISSC). With the exception of the earlynursery stage, shellfish aquaculturecannot be located in waters classifiedas “Conditionally Approved” or“Prohibited”. In addition, proximity toareas with the potential for reducedwater quality is considered when sitingto minimize the risk that shellfishfarming operations be impacted bydeclining water quality in the future.Site selection is usually aniterative process between theprospective shellfish farmer and thetown, primarily through the townshellfish constable. Although eachtown is different, it generally involvesa formal application, site review by thetown, opportunities for publiccomment, and review by state andfederal authorities before the license isgranted to the farmer, as outlined inTable 1. Because the applicationprocess varies from town to town, it isrecommended that the prospectiveshellfish grower discuss the correctapplication process for theirmunicipality with local authorities.A more recent development inshellfish aquaculture licensing is theconcept of “block permitting” bytowns to form aquaculture areas.Originated via encouragement at thestate and federal levels, towns haverecently started designating largertracts (50 to 100 acres) of intertidaland/or subtidal areas for shellfishaquaculture development. This methodallows the town to expedite thepermitting process through acquiringrequired permits for the “aquaculturearea” from local, state, and federalauthorities. The large tracts are thensubdivided into smaller parcelsVersion 09-04aPage 1

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern Massachusetts(generally 2 to 3 acres) and licensed toindividual growers. The advantages arethat it simplifies the process ofpermitting and expedites the award ofan aquaculture license to the individualgrower while it allows the town toincorporate a level of long-termplanning into their harbor developmentplan while selecting sites deemedappropriate for shellfish aquaculture.Version 09-04aPage 2

Best Management Practicesfor the Shellfish Culture Industryin Southeastern M

Best Management Practices for the Shellfish Culture Industry in Southeastern Massachusetts mouth. This manual strives to identify and describe the best available technologies for specific management considerations in shellfish farming with an emphasis on sustaining acceptable production levels in concert with positive or benign impacts on the