The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are accepting the Joint State/Federal Application for a Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture lease and Federal permit Joint Application for State Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Lease and Corps of Engineers Federal Permit in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and the Coastal Bays. The joint permit application should be submitted to Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service, Aquaculture Division C-2, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401. DNR will forward your joint application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a permit before you may conduct shellfish aquaculture activities on your lease. Download The Joint State/Federal Application for a Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture lease and Federal permit. Application and instructions, along with additional information, can be found at Maryland's Department of Natural Resources web page on the Shellfish Aquaculture Program.
New Permit Process
The Baltimore District issued Regional General Permit-1 (RGP-1) for new commercial, research, and educational bivalve shellfish aquaculture activities for a five-year period. RGP-1 is applicable in waters within the State of Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries; and the Atlantic Coastal Bays and their tidal tributaries. It expires Aug. 15, 2016. View module below for Frequently Asked Questions.
The Regulatory Branch proposes to reinstate Nationwide Permit 48, Aug. 16, 2016, for new aquaculture activities with the goal of making the permit process more efficient. The District requested comments until May 31, 2016, on proposed changes to the current aquaculture permitting process.
Proposed changes include:
The Baltimore District is proposing to remove the limits on project acreage for aquaculture activities under Nationwide Permit 48. To qualify for the existing Regional General Permit, projects are limited to 50 acres for shell-on-bottom, five acres for cages-on-bottom, and three acres for floating aquaculture activities. Proposed projects greater than these size limits had to undergo an individual permit process, which includes a public notice and comment period, and takes more time to process. Based on project location, there are still regional conditions the project must comply with to include minimizing effects on endangered species, navigation, and historic resources.
The Baltimore District is also working to streamline the joint state/federal aquaculture review process with Maryland DNR. The process requires applicants to receive an aquaculture lease from Maryland DNR and a permit from the Corps. Currently, the joint application is submitted by the applicant to Maryland DNR for review, and then it is forwarded to the Baltimore District after DNR completes its survey and plans. The Baltimore District proposes DNR forward the application shortly after receipt so both agencies can concurrently review and continue to coordinate throughout the process. Alternatively, the applicant can send the application to both DNR and the Baltimore District. This will enable the Baltimore District to see the application and initiate its review sooner.
The Baltimore District proposes to require additional information in the application to ensure the proposed activities have minimal impacts on navigation and endangered species. These details include a description of structure spacing; the number and spacing of vertical and horizontal lines and buoys; information identifying how adverse effects to navigation and neighboring properties have been avoided; and notification to adjacent property owners.
The Baltimore District also proposes to remove the geographic exclusion lines that made projects upstream of those lines ineligible for authorization under the 2012 Nationwide Permit 48. The lines were intended to protect fish spawning habitat, but the Baltimore District is coordinating with the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine how to best address this concern.
Comments are accepted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by mail:
Attn: Woody Francis, Regulatory Branch
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
10 South Howard St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21201