Boaters say sand shoals in Hampton Harbor causing danger, costing businesses moneyBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
May 13. 2018 7:24PM
SEABROOK — Sand shoals in Hampton Harbor are causing a safety hazard, according to those who work on the water.
Les Eastman, of Eastman’s Fishing Fleet, said some of his recreational fishing trips are being cancelled because the channel in Seabrook has gotten so narrow it is dangerous to take people out during certain times.
Eastman said something must be done to have the harbor dredged. The area was last dredged in 2012 and he is concerned because tourist season is fast approaching.
“Now, it’s an emergency. Before, it was a concern,” Eastman said. “We know in the harbor thousands of tourists launch their boats here. It’s going to be a disaster.”
Geno Marconi, director of ports and harbors for the New Hampshire Port Authority, said shoaling takes a toll on professional boatmen and affects local businesses. He said anyone who plans to take a boat out recreationally should always make sure they have taken the state’s required safety class.
On Friday, Eastman took U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, and a group of officials out to see the shoaling first-hand. She spoke with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Commander Col. Bill Conde. Conde said they are hopeful federal appropriations will be approved for dredging in 2019. Right now, the channel is only 20 to 30 feet in some places, he said. Conde said it is their responsibility to maintain a certain depth and width of the channel.
“The good news is all of this material is sand. The bad news is it is sand and can move back more easily,” Conde said.
Shaheen, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-NH, requested emergency dredging for Hampton Harbor in March. The delegation said Hampton Harbor supports 25 party-fishing boats, numerous lobster and commercial fishing boats, a federally funded pier with emergency response and patrol boats as well as about 1,500 recreational vessels.