Former Aquaculture Site Bottoms Out

            During the Marion Marine Resources Commission’s meeting held on November 23, Deputy Harbormaster and Shellfish Officer Adam Murphy came before the members to discuss his ongoing work relating to the cleanup of the site where Shea Doonan had operated with an aquaculture license since revoked. Reported mismanagement of the equipment on the site led the Town of Marion to begin cleanup of the area to restore the site for future applicants.

            Murphy told commission members that he had been working alongside Marion Harbormaster Isaac Perry to remove abandoned oyster collection bags and oyster cages that litter the site. Murphy assembled a team to detect the oyster cages and remove them from the water. The removal of these cages took Murphy and his team over 40 hours to complete.

            The work to clean the harbor of old shellfishing equipment involved the removal of over 200 oyster bags. The equipment had been rotting on the floor of the harbor, trapping oysters inside without any future for the product trapped inside.

            There has been increasing tension surrounding the project’s cleanup, as Murphy estimated that the total cost to complete the cleanup now stands at over $10,000 and is likely to increase as the work continues. Murphy and Perry had been willing to consider Doonan’s position as grant owner and minimize the cost he would have to bear from the project. Reporting a lack of cooperation on the project from Doonan, Murphy and Perry told the commission they no longer consider his position and instead are racing towards completion of the work.

            Murphy, the town’s shellfish officer, also noted that many of the faulty equipment problems were caused by the improper methods employed by Doonan when securing the equipment. Murphy explained that, while some of the equipment had been properly secured, it was clear that others were tied in such a way that explained the inability to effectively retrieve them from the bottom of the oyster farm.

            Ultimately, if the project’s cost is not resolved by Doonan, it will become an expense for the town. Marine Resources Commission Chairman Vincent Malkoski recommended that a letter be sent to the Board of Selectman to bill the cost of the cleanup project to Doonan. The commission voted to send the letter and await the final invoice for the project from Murphy.

            Perry moved to present a report on the recent oil spill training that took place on October 22. The training was sponsored by the Department of Environmental Protection and featured participation from the local community.

            Perry explained that this kind of training is usually conducted every three years to continually promote the necessary procedures to combat these types of spills. The training scenarios involved use experiences from past oil spills that have affected the Town of Marion to inform the proper steps to take in future spills.

            Unfortunately, amid the coronavirus crisis, the training seminar could not take place with participation from the surrounding towns as usual. Perry explained that the lack of participation from other towns did allow for many more members from the local community to get involved in the oil spill training.

            Perry gave a final report to the commission related to the planned construction of a new Harbormaster building. Although there have been no official plans presented by an architect yet, there have already been concerns related to the project’s cost. Perry responded to these concerns by eliminating the planned public screening area and public restrooms. Instead, existing restrooms will be renovated to reduce projected costs.

            Perry advised that little discussion will occur on the project until he receives actual plans from an architect. Without the official plans, Perry fears that the project will be picked apart before anyone actually knows what is going to be done.

            The next Marion Marine Resource Commission meeting will be held on January 11.

Marion Marine Resources Commission

By Matthew Donato

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