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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Westporters Opposed to Oyster Plan

Westporters Opposed to Oyster Plan Prepare for Hearing
A group opposed to a controversial plan to harvest oysters from Long Island Sound off of Westport using cages suspended above the bottom says it expects several hundred Westporters to show up at a federal hearing to voice their objections.

Recreational boaters say the plan, if approved, would obstruct public waterways used by thousands of commercial and pleasure boats.

A news release from the group, Keep Westports Waterways Open, said the Westporters are expected to attend a public hearing July 23 in Milford to oppose the 367-acre longline oyster farming business that would be located just off Compo Beach.

The group said more than 700 people have already written to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating their opposition to the oyster farming plan of Mariculture Unlimited, LLC of Westport.

In response, the Corps agreed to schedule a requested public hearing, which is to be held at 7 p.m. in the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 70 West River Road, Milford.

Keep WestportҒs Waterways Open, representing the interests of commercial and recreational boaters along the towns river and Sound shorelines, formerly was known as Save Scenic Westport Harbor.

The news release said the groupҒs name change reflects the growing concern among many local residents that the oyster farming operation proposed by Mariculture Unlimited would pose an additional hazard in congested waters and sound the death knell for established boating events.

At the July 23 public hearing, the Corps also will receive comments on a Mariculture Unlimited application for a similar oyster-rearing operation off the coast of Milford. Speakers can sign in beginning at 6 p.m.

The opposition group urged residents to communicate their views on the Mariculture Unlimited plan to Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell and other local and state legislators.

Written comments may be submitted directly to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until Aug. 2. Mariculture Unlimited will sponsor an information session from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. before the public hearing.



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