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    • Georgia HB 833 and Expanded Shellfish Areas – Update

      Cruisers Net has joined other concerned boating groups in requesting clarification on anchoring restrictions as defined in GA DNR’s Liveaboard Anchoring Illustrative Map. Our thanks to Ted Arisaka and James Newsome for their research and diligence in seeking fairness for all boaters, locals and transients. To see the various layers with defined restrictions, click on Layers in the center of the bottom of the map linked above.

       

      Commissioner Mark Williams,                                                                                          October 12, 2020

      On behalf of the group of boaters who worked with the GA DNR to create replacement HB 833 earlier this year, we seek some clarification on its implementation.  You may recall that during our conference call, we stated our concerns about the shellfish harvest areas and you directed your team to follow up with James Newsome as our representative on this matter.  This has not occurred to date and we would like to avoid another confrontational situation such as when HB201 was developed without stakeholder involvement.

      The areas designated as shellfish harvest area buffers in the current map on the GA DNR website (Ref 1) are greatly increased vs those previously defined.  

      · Is GA DNR CRD representing the green shaded areas as currently approved shellfish growing areas?

      Terms and Conditions preceding the map state (emphasis mine) “Anchorage restriction areas means those areas within the estuarine areas of this state in any location that lies within 300 feet of a marina, 150 feet from a marine structure other than a marina, or within 500 feet of approved commercial shellfish growing areas and designated public harvest areas as determined by the department.

      · As much of the expanded shellfish growing areas include federally defined navigable waterways below the low water mark, has the US Army Corps of Engineers approved the designation USACE Nationwide Permit 48 (Ref 2 and 3) ?

      · How much of the shellfish zones will be below the intertidal zone and be set aside for the mariculture technique utilizing cages suspended in the water column by floats?

      · HB501 specifies that subtidal harvest zone leases must first be evaluated for impact against other public uses.  (Ref 4).  Has this been completed?  If so, may we examine the evaluations?  If not, what opportunity for public comment will you make available?

      ” Prior to offering a subtidal water bottoms lease, the department shall consider compatibility with other public uses of the marine and estuarine resources in proximity of the lease area that include, but are not limited to, navigation, fishing, swimming, and other forms of recreation.”

      · GA DNR has adopted the federal framework of National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP), requiring shellfish waters meet the NSSP requirements before being designated as approved.  Have these assessments been completed for all indicated areas? (Ref 5)

      The boating group members seek a balance of interest among public access, waterfront property owners, and a resurgent shellfish industry.  

      Your feedback to clarify the above points would be most appreciated. 

      Coalition is comprised of:

      America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association

      CruisersNet

      DeFever Cruisers Association

      Marine Trawler Owners Association

      National Marine Manufacturers Association

      Waterway Guide

      Save Georgia’s Anchorages

       

      Cc:      Walter Rabon, GA DNR Deputy Commissioner,

      Doug Haymans, GA DNR Director, Coastal Resources Division

      Reference:

      1- https://gcmp.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=b5a616ad152a462bad0b73cdb5eeb107

      2 – USACE Nationwide Permit 48  Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Activities (Sections 10 and 404)

      3 – Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 https://www.epa.gov/cwa-404/section-10-rivers-and-harbors-appropriation-act-1899

      4 – HB 501 lines 341-346 http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20192020/185110.pdf

      5 – US Food and Drug Administration – National Shellfish Sanitation Program https://www.fda.gov/media/98328/download

       

      October 15 update:

      SGA (Save Georgia’s Anchorages) and Georgia resident James Newsome on behalf of our boaters’ coalition followed up on his letter to GA DNR Commissioner Williams with a call to Deputy Commissioner Rabon today.
      James reports “GA DNR has acknowledged receipt of the email from the boating coalition group and is working on a response. Deputy Commissioner Rabon also agreed to host a conference call to discuss.”

       

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      Comments from Cruisers (3)

      1. James H. Newsome -  October 12, 2020 - 7:20 am

        Thanks Larry and CN for joining our efforts to address this latest challenge to anchoring issues on the GA coast.

        Reply to James
      2. James H Newsome -  October 12, 2020 - 7:18 am

        Larry, Thanks much to CN for joining our effort to address this latest challenge to anchoring issues in GA. Your support is greatly appreciated.

        Reply to James
      3. Ted Arisaka -  October 12, 2020 - 6:57 am

        Thanks to Cruisers’Net for your support and helping to raise awareness of this issue to the marine community.

        Reply to Ted
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