Aquafarmer proposes sugar kelp operation

Jamestown residents concerned about an expanded aquaculture operation in Dutch Harbor have until Sept. 30 to submit their objections to the state agency in charge of coastal development.

The application by Adam Silkes, doing business as AT Marine, North Kingstown, was submitted Aug. 31 to the Coastal Resources Management Council. He is asking the agency for an assent modification to add sugar kelp (Sacharina latissimi) to the list of approved species for his aquaculture site.

This kelp will be grown on the existing submerged longlines. Silkes said this expansion “will not require any gear modifications or additions,” and there “won’t be any changes to the visual impact.”

The reason for the modification, Silkes said, “is to meet the increasing demand for sustainably farmed kelp.” According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “sugar kelp is a yellowish brown marine algae widely cultivated and eaten in Asia and growing in popularity in the United States as a nutritious food high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.”

The federal agency also said the farming of kelp “provides net environmental benefits by removing excess nutrients and carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen to mitigate against ocean acidification.”

The public has the ability to object to applications if there is “good reason to enter protests against the proposed work.” Objectors are expected to thoroughly review the application and plans, and visit the site of the proposed work if necessary to familiarize themselves with the conditions. In the objections, they should cite what laws, if any, would be violated by the proposed work.

Written protests should be mailed to the Coastal Resources Management Council, Oliver H. Stedman Government Center, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Suite 3, Wakefield, RI 02879. Objectors are required to attend the scheduled hearing and give sworn testimony.