Baltimore District developed a Regional General Permit (RGP) for Commercial Shellfish aquaculture activities that was effective from Aug. 15, 2011, to Aug. 15, 2016. On Aug. 16, 2016, Baltimore District replaced the expiring RGP-1 by reinstating the 2012 Nationwide Permit (NWP) 48 for Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture activities. On March 20, 2017, Baltimore District announced 2017 NWP 48 would be used for Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture projects proposed within both the Chesapeake Bay and the Coastal Bays, as well as their respective tidal tributaries in Maryland.
NWP 48 authorizes the installation of buoys, floats, racks, trays, nets, lines, tubes, containers and other structures into navigable waters of the United States, as well as discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States (seeding, rearing, cultivating, transplanting and harvesting activities), associated with new and continuing commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in authorized project areas. The project area is identified through a lease or permit issued by an appropriate state or local government agency, a treaty, or any easement, lease, deed, contract, or other legally binding agreement that establishes an enforceable property interest for the operator.
The process requires submission of an application in order to receive both an aquaculture lease from Maryland DNR and a permit from the Corps. The joint permit application may be submitted to either Maryland DNR, (Maryland DNR Fisheries Service, Aquaculture Division, C-2, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401), or to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District ( 2 Hopkins Plaza, Attn: Regulatory Branch, Baltimore, MD 21201). Both Corps authorization and a state lease are required before the proposed work and activities may be legally performed. Download The Joint State/Federal Application for a Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture lease and Federal permit (currently in the process of being revised). Application and instructions, along with additional information, can be found on Maryland DNR’s shellfish aquaculture program web site.
Nationwide permits provide a more streamlined and efficient process for obtaining Department of the Army authorizations than individual permits. In conjunction with Maryland DNR, Baltimore District refined the federal process whereby Baltimore District now receives shellfish aquaculture applications submitted to Maryland DNR within seven to 10 days of receipt, enabling both agencies to concurrently review projects while continuing coordination throughout the process. Previously, the joint application was submitted by the applicant to Maryland DNR for review, and then they forwarded the application to Baltimore District after completing their full review to include an on-site survey and project plans updated from the applicant’s initial submittal.
For general permits, the Corps’ goal is to make a permit decision 60 days after receipt of a federally complete application. More complex or larger projects use Individual Permits that require a public notice and have an issuance goal of 120 days from receipt of a federally complete application.
Baltimore District participates in Aquaculture Review Board meetings, chaired by Maryland DNR and attended by other agencies, including Maryland Department of the Environment, U.S. Coast Guard, National Marine Fisheries Service and Maryland Historical Trust. The District is working in cooperation with these agencies to identify trends that affect permit processing times in order to understand what we can do to provide more efficient and effective decision-making for aquaculture projects in Maryland.
Baltimore District developed Regional Conditions for NWP 48 to ensure proposed commercial shellfish activities have minimal impacts on navigation and endangered species; this requires the applicant provide certain information for review as well as satisfy notification requirements in order for the application to be considered complete. If Regional Conditions requirements are not met, the application is incomplete and cannot be processed or considered further for Baltimore District review. Requirements may include a description of structure spacing; the number and spacing of cages/floats/gear as well as the number of vertical and horizontal lines, buoys and markers; and notification to adjacent property owners, as well as information identifying how adverse impacts to navigation and ingress and egress to neighboring properties have been avoided. View the Q&As below for additional information.
Resources from Aquaculture Workshop, March 21, 2019
Information in the presentation materials includes the permit application/leasing process, key considerations when developing a shellfish aquaculture project, pre-construction notification requirements, siting and navigation considerations, compliance with permit conditions, and coordination with adjacent property owners.