Delaware Aquaculture Permitting

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Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is proceeding with a Statewide Activity Approval permitting process that would enable the start-up of limited commercial shellfish aquaculture in Delaware’s Inland Bays by authorizing the permitting of activities in specifically-designated areas intended to help improve water quality and provide new business opportunities.

DNREC Secretary David Small said the Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) is the final step that DNREC needs to complete before it can begin accepting applications from aquaculturalists seeking to lease lands for their operations.

He noted that the Statewide Activity Approval also enabled DNREC to address the concerns of residents that came to light after the state’s shellfish aquaculture regulations had been adopted.

The number of areas now being proposed for SAAs has been reduced from the areas originally adopted as part of the regulations that provide for program oversight.  Specifically, areas in Beach Cove will not be subject to the SAA process and the number of sites in Little Assawoman Bay has been reduced.

DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Director David Saveikis, whose division has regulatory purview for shellfish aquaculture, recently wrote in the SAA application that “The Fisheries Section is hereby requesting that the Division of Water, Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section establish a Statewide Activity Approval (SAA) to facilitate the issuance of permits for commercial shellfish aquaculture activities on public subaqueous lands in Delaware’s Inland Bays to be leased pursuant to 7 DE Admin Code 3800 Shellfish Aquaculture” –  the regulation that calls for implementing a commercial aquaculture program in Delaware.

DNREC’s Wetlands and Subaqueous Lands Section is charged with oversight for any Department decision that involves use of subaqueous lands.

The impetus for Delaware’s aquaculture initiative originated with the Center for the Inland Bays, which assembled a team of interested parties that developed a program framework and recommendations that led to enabling legislation.

DNREC also has applied for an expedited federal permit process from the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is needed before it can begin accepting applications for leases in designated shellfish aquaculture areas.

Maps of the shellfish aquaculture areas as delineated by the Statewide Activity Approval permit can be found on the DNREC website on the SAA Shellfish Aquaculture Package at

source: Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control