SEATTLE – Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Commander Col. John Buck has decided not to pursue a Regional General Permit for aquaculture activities at this time. The 2017 Nationwide Permit 48, which is being developed now to permit certain commercial shellfish aquaculture activities, will provide consistency with national standards, and provide appropriate protection to the aquatic environment with the flexibility to adapt conditions to reflect regional circumstances.
The Seattle District will also be proposing, in coordination with the USACE Northwestern Division, any regional conditions that are deemed necessary to ensure the permitted activities are minimally affecting on the aquatic environment.
Establishment of any necessary regional conditions will be an open, transparent and public process to ensure all interests are heard and considered. Seattle District will be providing opportunities to provide comments on draft regional conditions beginning in November 2016. The District will also meet in person with growers and other interested parties regarding development of any necessary regional conditions.
Seattle District also received a Biological Opinions (BiOps) from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service August 26 and from the National Marine Fisheries Service Sept. 2, 2016. Seattle District aims to start verifying applications as soon as possible using the programmatic consultation to address Endangered Species Act compliance. To begin this process, Seattle District is reviewing the BiOps and will make a Specific Project Information Form (SPIF) available to applicants this month.
Seattle District has posted the programmatic biological assessment and the biological opinions on-line. A SPIF will be posted in the near future and the District will directly notify interested parties when it is available. Seattle District staff plan to hold workshops for growers once all the materials have been released. All materials will be available online at http://www.usace.army.mil this month.
Growers seeking ESA coverage for aquaculture activities will need to complete a SPIF to document they meet the terms and conditions of the programmatic BiOps. Those who don’t meet the terms and conditions will need to submit a Biological Assessment, using the USACE Programmatic Biological Assessment as a reference.
Release no. 16-031