Kennedy and Department of Agriculture Announce Model Shellfishing Program on Branford Shoreline
Program aims to attract newcomers to Connecticut’s oyster and shellfish farming industry by lowering the cost of entry
BRANFORD, CT—Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky have announced a model program designed to encourage new entrants into Connecticut’s oyster and clam industry. Kennedy, Reviczky and Branford fisherman Jonathan Waters held an open discussion with local oyster and shellfish farmers. They spoke about the launch of this new program, and invited suggestions from current and potential farmers on how to ensure its success.
“Long Island Sound was once home to one of the world’s largest and most economically important oyster fisheries in the world. I believe that this program, combined with the natural potential of the region can enable Stony Creek and the Connecticut shoreline to reestablish itself as an important brand-name shell fishery,” said Senator Kennedy, Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. “This innovative economic development program will offer small plots of prime, near-shore, historically-productive shellfish beds to new entrants into the oyster and clam industry. This model program lowers start-up costs, reduces environmental and business risks, streamlines needed permits and provides practical instruction in the necessary skills for a successful aquaculture career.”
“The acquisition of these historical commercial shellfish grounds by the Department of Agriculture presents a unique opportunity to grow the shellfish industry in Connecticut,” Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “Our agency looks forward to working with entrepreneurs interested in exploring a career in aquaculture.”
“I’m really thrilled to see this initiative between the state and the fishermen here. To me this is the start of the future,” said Jonathan Waters, a Branford fisherman. “I care deeply about this area, the history and the future of oysters and The Thimbles. It’s a very moving thing for me to have this happen here.”
Several years ago, the state of Connecticut acquired the rights for hundreds of acres of shellfish beds surrounding The Thimble Islands. The Department of Agriculture will begin offering access to these shellfish beds to new entrants into the shellfishing industry who can use them to learn the necessary skills and explore their interest in developing a career in aquaculture. These beds are located in protected, near-shore waters and are some of the most productive shellfishing locations in Long Island Sound.
Kennedy and the Department of Agriculture feel that this model program will increase the chance of success for new aquaculture businesses because:
- the underwater shellfish beds have already proven to be historically productive;
- the water is protected from weather by The Thimble Islands, enabling fishermen to use less-expensive, smaller boats to begin their business;
- the beds are near the Stony Creek town dock, which can be used to unload shellfish and service the business;
- there are already successful oyster and clam operators in and around The Thimble Islands who can assist and train newcomers in hands-on skills and practical experience, and business and marketing strategies, increasing likelihood of business success; and
- the state of Connecticut will provide needed technical, permitting and logistical support to promote this economic development effort.
New fishing businesses will soon begin operating on these beds through this model program. Senator Kennedy and Commissioner Reviczky encouraged any current or potential shellfish farmers to contact them about participating in the program or to offer suggestions on how to make it more effective at reaching and assisting new businesses.