Marine Conservation Agreements
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New Hampshire Analysis

Status: Initial

The Ocean and Coast

New Hampshire has 235 miles of estuarine shoreline interwoven along approximately 18 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. The estuarine shoreline includes the Great Bay and several tidal rivers.

Marine Conservation Agreements

As of February 2009, The Nature Conservancy had not undertaken formal law, policy, or spatial data analyses related to Marine Conservation Agreements (MCAs) in New Hampshire. As such, we do not have a clear picture of what is legally possible, nor do we have a clear understanding of the ownership and leasing patterns across the coastal landscape and seascape. At this time, organizations wishing to pursue MCAs in New Hampshire should undertake site-specific assessments or work with state agency staff to evaluate opportunities statewide.

If organizations pursue MCAs in New Hampshire, several local, state, and federal authorizations may be required. The information that follows provides context for and information regarding possible authorization needs.

Submerged Lands

The state of New Hampshire claims ownership of all lands below the line of mean high water. It does not appear that New Hampshire has a single state program with specific proprietary responsibility for submerged lands. Regulatory management of activities below the high water line is undertaken by programs relating to the coastal zone, wildlife and fisheries, and aquaculture, among others.

Tidal wetlands lying above the mean high tide line are generally in private ownership unless under some form of government protection. Tidal wetlands lying below mean high tide fall under the public trust. All wetlands below the highest observable tide line (HOTL) are regulated by the Wetlands Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. In addition, a tidal buffer zone extends 100 feet beyond the HOTL and is regulated similarly to wetlands.  

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Wetlands Bureau
PO Box 95
Concord NH 03302
Tel: 603-271-2147

Coastal Zone

The New Hampshire Coastal Program includes all 17 coastal municipalities. Housed in the Department of Environmental Services, the Coastal Program is a networked program involving different state agencies and local government. The Program’s work focuses on planning, restoration and education. The program handles federal consistency review, provides grants and technical assistance, and has a federally-approved Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program.

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Coastal Program
50 International Drive, Suite 200
Pease Tradeport
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Tel: 603-559-1500
Fax: 603-559-1510
Email: coastal@des.nh.gov

Shoreline Development

The Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act sets minimum standards for any project within 250 feet of the highest observable tide. Projects requiring permits for excavation, a water-dependent structure, bank alteration, beach fill, septic system, contiguous disturbed area greater than 50,000 sq. ft., or land subdivision, must meet these minimum standards. The standards are enforceable both by the state and by municipalities. All projects in coastal wetlands and tidal waters require a permit from the Wetlands Bureau, Department of Environmental Services.

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Wetlands Bureau
PO Box 95
Concord NH 03302
Tel: 603-271-2147
Email: shoreland@des.nh.gov

Beaches

New beach construction must conform to the minimum standards of the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act, obtain any required Wetlands Permit for dredge and fill, and complete a Public Bathing Beach Application.

Tidal beaches (above mean high water) may be in state, local, or private ownership. There are five seacoast beaches managed by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation. The Coastal Program (above) has published an updated public access guide to New Hampshire’s coastline in 2007. Most beach nourishment projects in New Hampshire have been to provide convenient disposal of dredged material for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging projects.1

The Public Beach Inspection Program of NHDES samples water quality at bathing beaches.

New Hampshire Department of Resources & Economic Development
State Beaches - Division of Parks & Recreation
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
Tel: 603-271-3556
Email: nhparks@dred.state.nh.us

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Public Beach Inspection Program - Watershed Management Bureau
29 Hazen Drive
P. O. Box 95
Concord, NH 03302-0095
Tel: 603-271-2698
Fax: 603-271-2867
Email: beaches@des.nh.gov

Fish and Wildlife

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife, and marine resources. The Wildlife Division manages other game and non-game species and their habitats on public lands. The Marine Fisheries Division manages saltwater species, including fish, lobsters, clams and oysters, and issues marine aquaculture permits (above).

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Marine Fisheries Division
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: 603-868-1095

Aquaculture

Shellfish aquaculture is small and relatively new in New Hampshire. Shellfish aquaculture leases are not granted for submerged lands. Rather a license is required from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Fees are $200/acre/year for bottom culture, $500/acre/year for suspended culture, and $750/acre/year for pen culture. Leases are awarded for only one year at a time. In addition, the rules dictate that “Any person harvesting the state's wild natural resources or cultured resources shall be charged $.015 per individual organism for native oysters and a $.01 per pound processing fee for fish taken from a pen culture.”  The licenses are not salable, but are renewable, transferable, and inheritable.

NHFG issues nonexclusive marine aquaculture licenses for oyster beds. The licenses must not interfere with traditional uses such as those of lobstermen and moorages. Licenses are renewable annually. New Hampshire was authorized as a shellfish-producing state in 2000 and as of fall 2006 had just four shellfish aquaculture projects on subtidal lands.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Marine Fisheries Division
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Tel: 603-868-1095

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Shellfish Program
50 International Drive, Suite 200
Pease Tradeport
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Phone: 603-559-1509
Fax: 603-559-1510
Email: chris.nash@des.nh.gov

Water Quality

Water quality is managed through numerous programs in the Water Division of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Conservation projects that may directly or indirectly affect water quality should contact the Water Division.

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
Water Division
29 Hazen Drive
P.O. Box 95
Concord, NH 03302-0095
Tel: 603-271-3503
Fax: 603-271-2867
Email: watershed@des.nh.gov

 

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1 Surfrider Foundation. 2007. State of the Beach: New Hampshire. (Accessed June 8, 2007.)

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