Niantic River scallops

There was a time when scallops were plentiful in the Niantic River. Long-time residents recall that in the 1960s and 1970s the shellfish were so abundant that a bushelful could be harvested in a mere half hour.

In recent years, however, the scallop population is diminished, and it’s not uncommon for there to be no shellfishing season at all in the river.

Tim Londregan, a local businessman, has a plan he says could help revive the Niantic scallop. He is seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grow scallops and oysters in a swath of the river near Mago Point. He already owns a Niantic Bay oyster farm and has worked for a Fishers Island shellfish hatchery for three years.

Expanding the number of farmed scallops in the river will improve the overall water quality, also helping to boost the natural shellfish population, he said.

Londregan’s proposal seems like an economic and possibly recreational win for the region. We advocate for this young businessman’s entrepreneurial endeavor as long as it passes appropriate regulatory muster. Further, we ask that the plans not be subjected to unreasonable suspicions and bogged down by unwarranted delays.

Some Niantic River neighbors have sounded alarms about the proposal that could do just that. They say they are worried about how the shellfish operation could smell, whether it would be unsightly and how much it might impede the use and enjoyment of the river by others who swim, fish and boat there. These concerns, along with the Army Corps’ admitted accidental failure to properly notify Waterford Town Hall about Londregan’s application, has slowed down the process. An August 29 deadline to submit comments and concerns has been extended until Sept. 20 by the Army Corps.

The Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission, which includes representatives of both towns, granted Londregan a license to access six acres of the river for his shellfish operation. Questions are being raised about the validity of that license, however, because the matter wasn’t also approved by boards of selectmen.

While Londregan’s business proposal rightfully must adhere to the regulatory process, some of the concerns being raised smack of being overly alarmist or simply too much NIMBY-ism at work. It would be a public loss if this business proposal is abandoned because of unjustified complaints.

Regulations governing use of the river are designed to serve all of the public’s good. Let the process work in a timely fashion. 

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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