Letter: Protestors target Tiverton farming with misinformation

Posted 7/12/21

To the editor:

We are so lucky to live in a part of the country that has abundant open space and a rich tradition of local food production. However, open space and local food production require …

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Letter: Protestors target Tiverton farming with misinformation

Posted

To the editor:

We are so lucky to live in a part of the country that has abundant open space and a rich tradition of local food production. However, open space and local food production require continuous support from elected leaders and residents to prosper.  

The production of aquatic plants and animals (aquaculture) is one of the oldest forms of agriculture on the planet. Some of the most environmentally friendly forms of agriculture are growing shellfish and seaweeds in nearshore waters.  

Shellfish and seaweeds growing in our bay require no feed or fertilizers that most terrestrial farming requires. Shellfish and seaweeds remove nutrients from the water and significantly improve the local water quality of an area. 

Shellfish farming has increased in popularity up and down the east coast of the US. Rhode Island, like many states, has developed a strict and measured plan to help farmers get leases to sites and ensure that only a tiny sliver of a given embayment or body of water is open for shellfish farmers.  Most aquaculture permits and rulemaking occurs at the state level. Rhode Island's plan has been developed to keep other users' interests in mind, water access, commercial fishermen, recreational boaters, etc.  

It is unfortunate to see baseless claims about oyster farming crop up in Tiverton from time to time.  Rhode Island, like many other states, expressly included aquaculture within the scope of their right-to-farm protections. Unlike many letters and yard signs, there is no threat to the local waterways posed by a small local oyster farm.  The local oyster farm, a bonafide farming operation, is as industrial as a local organic produce producer or pasture of hay.  

Local farmers should be admired for their hard work and great food, yet some in Tiverton swat away farmers with NIMBY threats and misinformation.  There are a lot of good information resources readers can turn to for accurate information about shellfish farms. NOAA is an excellent place to start: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/aquaculture

Andrew L Rhyne, PhD

Professor of Marine Biology

Little Compton

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