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Thresher1

CT Shellfish Aquaculture Lease Dispute?

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Hey all,

 

I'm a M******* interloping in your local waters, but I'm curious about something.......

 

I just finished reading the Atlantic Coast Fishery News October issue and about 85% of it has to do with what seems to be some shifty moves by the state's Bureau of Aquaculture.

 

Anyone here have a counter to the claims laid out in the ACFN?

 

For what it's worth, I have no dog in this fight other than supporting sustainable fisheries, sensible management and an open process.

 

Any local (and more informed) thoughts?

 

Thanks.

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See article below from New Haven Register recently. As with everything in CT, this argument is about money. The underwater grounds owned by the state and citizens of CT are leased to commercial companies at stupidly low rates.( minimum bid @ $4 per acre) It seems the State would like to update some regs and change leasing rules and the commercial shellfishermen are raising a stink. For all of the supposed poor mouth posturing from companies like Bloom, they seem to have alot of money to hire lawyers. .

 

 

Connecticut shell fishermen protest new Long Island Sound lease requirements

 

 

POSTED: 09/10/14, 7:44 PM EDT | UPDATED: ON 09/11/2014 2 COMMENTS

MILFORD >> About two-dozen shell fishermen from throughout Connecticut, business owners and legislators met outside the state’s Aquaculture Bureau Wednesday to voice strong opposition to new lease terms imposed by the Department of Agriculture.

 

With the support of Milford Democratic state Reps. James Maroney, Kim Rose and Paul Davis, state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, called on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to intervene.

Malloy did not comment, but referred inquiries to the Department of Agriculture.

“We have one of the greatest shellfish industries in the world here” in Connecticut, Slossberg said. “We should be working with the industry, not against it.”

According to shell fishermen and legislators, the new leases, which would be signed at various times when old leases are up, include the right of the Department of Agriculture to terminate a lease on 30 days’ written notice for any reason, and 30 days after the “termination” the shell fisherman must waive their right to their product.

 

Also under the new terms, they said, failure to pay a bill within 10 days of the time it’s due means losing the lease. And if they fail to comply with any rules — including getting a speeding ticket — they can lose the lease. In addition, if one lease isn’t paid, a shell fisherman can lose all his or her beds, those against the new lease said, according to critics.

 

But Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said in a press release that the new policy regarding the leases will “enhance opportunities for small businesses, ensure public safety and protect taxpayers’ investments.”

 

He said the group in Milford Wednesday represented only a fraction of the shellfish industry and that the majority are on board. Reviczky said the changes are needed to modernize the industry — original rules were from 1915 — and will “reduce incidences of vibrio, a type of naturally occurring, warm-water bacteria that can cause wound infections from environmental exposure or gastrointestinal illness from consumption.”

 

“There is a small subset of the industry resisting these necessary changes, but the majority of the licensed oyster companies are not represented by this coalition,” Reviczky said. “This lease modification is a component of ongoing larger shellfish modernization efforts critical to ensuring adequate public health, consumer protection, and responsible stewardship of Connecticut taxpayer resources.”

 

Contrary to what the Milford group claimed, “the department cannot cancel a lease 'at will’ without cause,” he said.

 

But Davis said, “It seems somebody has gotten a little carried away here. … We need to bring the parties together.” He said the Department of Agriculture has gone beyond its scope.

 

Ed Stillwater of Atlantic Clam Farms of Connecticut, and a shell fisherman for 44 years, said the new lease requirements destroyed a recent deal to sell his business.

 

“I’m extremely angry at the department,” said Stillwater, 77, who wanted to retire.

 

Jim Salte, owner of Nutmeg Shellfish Farm, which has been oystering since the 1930s, said, “This new lease is BS.”

 

He said in the past, if you couldn’t afford to pay a lease, the department gave 60 days.

 

Salte said the governor should form a commission of shell fishermen, legislators and Department of Agriculture leaders.

 

Norm Bloom, owner of Norm Bloom & Son, said he believes the industry is in “real trouble.”

 

Westport attorney Neal Rogan, who represents Bloom’s company, accused Malloy of “destroying jobs,” rather than creating them, by not intervening over the new lease terms, which were made by administrators after being rejected by legislators.

 

“These people are farmers,” Rogan said.

 

Rogan claimed two Department of Agriculture workers were in attendance taking names of shell fishermen so they know who to target for repercussions.

 

“That’s ridiculous,” said a spokesman for the Agriculture Department.

 

Milford Mayor Ben Blake said during the press conference, “Florida has their oranges, Georgia has their peaches, Maine has their lobsters,” and Milford has its oysters and clams.

 

“These shell fishermen have years of experience,” Blake said. “Clearly, there’s a rich history here.”

 

Joe Gilbert, vice-president of Briarpatch Enterprises Inc., said, “We don’t just get overlooked — we get dismissed.”

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See article below from New Haven Register recently. As with everything in CT, this argument is about money. The underwater grounds owned by the state and citizens of CT are leased to commercial companies at stupidly low rates.( minimum bid @ $4 per acre) It seems the State would like to update some regs and change leasing rules and the commercial shellfishermen are raising a stink. For all of the supposed poor mouth posturing from companies like Bloom, they seem to have alot of money to hire lawyers. .

 

 

With all due respect, did you even read the very article you just quoted? Or the new lease vs the old one?

 

This issue isn't just about shellfish and it certainly isn't about the "stupidly low rate" for leases in CT.

 

 

ps-And what of the hiring lawyer(s) and having the $ to pay for them comment? Really? Having the resources to hire a lawyer to fight for your cause in a court of law makes your grievance moot?

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I laughed at the claim that 2 state employees were "in attendance taking names of shell fishermen so they know who to target for repercussions". Makes me dismiss everything else they said.

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See article below from New Haven Register recently. As with everything in CT, this argument is about money. The underwater grounds owned by the state and citizens of CT are leased to commercial companies at stupidly low rates.( minimum bid @ $4 per acre) It seems the State would like to update some regs and change leasing rules and the commercial shellfishermen are raising a stink. For all of the supposed poor mouth posturing from companies like Bloom, they seem to have alot of money to hire lawyers. .

 

 

With all due respect, did you even read the very article you just quoted? Or the new lease vs the old one?

 

This issue isn't just about shellfish and it certainly isn't about the "stupidly low rate" for leases in CT.

 

 

ps-And what of the hiring lawyer(s) and having the $ to pay for them comment? Really? Having the resources to hire a lawyer to fight for your cause in a court of law makes your grievance moot?

 

 

I thought you had no dog in this fight, do your own research next time.

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Roger that Dave.

 

I apologize for being argumentative. I try to pay attention to both rec and comm regulations all around and this dispute grabbed me a bit for some reason.

 

I thought you local guys may have some insight. I guess not. Sorry for the intrusion.

 

I know this is going to come off badly, but I can't help myself - what is with the "do your own research next time" comment? I posted the topic only after hearing about the issue, reading up on it and then reading(skimming) the actual leases - both new and old. Only then did I post the original post on this thread.

 

I live in MA and was looking to see if anyone local had some first hand info/experience with this issue. That's it. No dog in this fight other than looking for info and maybe a substantive discussion.

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Not trying to be argumentative either, the key point taken from the issue at hand is that the lease rules have not been changed since the 1910's. A lot of these companies have been around a long time and the prices and demand for their product ( oysters at least) has never been higher. I do feel sorry for the one boat clammer with a small plot on the edges of the big commercial dredgers. He may see tough times that these new rules cause him to lose his lease. My view is a little jaded as I can drive 2 blocks to the sound and see the oyster stakes covering the entire width and breadth of western New Haven Harbor, the same white boats have been there since I have been young enough to remember (1965), and I think they will most likely be there for the foreseeable future, new lease rules or not. The grounds are just too lucrative.

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Thanks Dave and no hard feelings.

 

I totally understand the logic behind looking at agreements written over 110 years ago - long overdue by any measure for sure. From what I read, it just seems like from the way the state went about updating the lease was not exactly on the up and up.

 

Thanks for the local insight. That's honestly all I was looking for.

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Dave,

 

The oyster farms have a bonus. those bivalves filter a lot of badness out the the water. I, like Thresher1, have no dog in the fight, except maybe the knowledge that active oyster beds clean the water that flow around and thru them. There is a resurgence in generating new oyster beds to help maintain the environment. In the 1800 and earlier oyster beds surrounded Manhattan, and thrived in the east River and all the bay and shore lines along the Long Island Coast. In LI Sound there were millions of Oysters and those oysters attracted small bait fish and those bait fish attracted bigger fish. the industrial revolution and the growth of citizens in NY, NJ and New England created pollution and consumed oysters at a fantastic rate. In the 1920's the people in the 5 Boro's on NY City ate 60 pound of oysters each annually. Now the closest oysters, edible oysters are in some eastern bays of Long Island and some sparse spots along the CT Coast. Very few people in NY City and along the CT coast consumer as much as a pound of oysters today.

 

The Shellfisher's make it possible for you to eat clean oysters. A rare and expensive addition to a meal purchased while dining out. There is a great movement in Jamaica Bay and other waters near NY City to try to reseed the old oyster grounds in an effort to clean upthe mess made by too many garbage pits and industrial run offs before 1960. Here we are 54 years later and the Hudson River has been declared a Class A Swimming water from the Federal Dam north of Albany and down to the NY City Line. The Housatonic, Connecticut and Thames Rivers are clean and full of fish. In 1965 the Hudson was an open sewer. As were many New England Streams and Rivers. 54 years of daily tidal flushes and enforced clean water practices have saved our rivers in the Northeast.

 

With your permission I'll PM you the name of a book and author, who grew up in CT's Fairfield Co., who has recorded the clean up. You will find it interesting reading. I'm not a tree hugger, but i do believe in clean water and expansion of the old things (Oyster Reef's) that help keep out waters clean.

 

Maybe the oyster producers need a little pat on the back for providing seed oysters to expand the wild oyster population. the author mentions some see oyster donations by Ct water men to NY for their attempts to clean up places that used to produce enough oysters to feed 60 pounds of them annually to people in NY City.

 

Bob

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Here is an article from the AP in Sept., 2012 on the start of oyster re seeding in NY metro waters.

 

NEW YORK — On a summer morning, marine biologist Ray Grizzle reaches into the waters of the Bronx River estuary and pulls up an oyster. The 2-year-old female is "good and healthy."

 

He grabs another handful and gets more good news. "This is a really dynamic area: Live oysters, reproducing!" the University of New Hampshire scientist says.

 

Grizzle holds up a glistening mollusk. He is standing waist-deep in the murky estuary littered with old tires, bottles, shopping carts and rank debris. A gun was once found.

 

Marine scientists like him, planners and government officials say millions of mollusks planted in waters off New York and other cities could go a long way toward cleaning up America's polluted urban environment. The oyster and other shellfish can slurp up toxins and eliminate decades of dirt.

 

Landscape architect Kate Orff has a name for the work she does at her Scape firm: Oyster-tecture. Orff is designing a park and a living reef for the mouth of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, where oysters could take hold and help filter one of the nation's most polluted waterways.

 

"My new hero is the oyster, with its biological power," Orff says.

 

Oyster-tecture is a 21st-century approach to creating new waterfront infrastructures where long-gone shellfish can be brought back.

 

Construction has begun on a new pier area that is to host Orff's reef. In her Manhattan office, she holds up a tangle of fuzzy black ropes that will be attached to the Brooklyn pier and filled with shellfish, which need to latch onto something to survive – whether a rock, dead shell or synthetic object.

 

The Oyster Restoration Research Project, a New York-based nonprofit umbrella group, partners with the NY/NJ Baykeeper ecology advocate working at the Bronx site, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that built an oyster reef on Governors Island off Manhattan.

 

While oysters are cultivated around the world, the United States has some of the best regeneration programs, says Bill Goldsborough, director of fisheries program at Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Md. The bay is a center of natural oyster growth, and regeneration is thriving just outside urban Annapolis and in Baltimore harbor.

 

Scientists also are trying to rejuvenate the oyster population in the Hudson River near Yonkers, north of New York, where explorer Henry Hudson spotted oysters in 1609.

 

"Having oysters improves the whole aquatic habitat, attracting fish and other marine life to the area," says Dennis Suszkowski, the science director of the nonprofit Hudson River Foundation.

 

The story of the black bivalve in New York is key to the history of America's biggest city.

 

When the Dutch arrived in Manhattan in the 1600s, the island was surrounded by mammoth oyster beds that fed the Lenape Indians. They covered hundreds of square miles underwater – so important as a major export that today's Ellis and Liberty islands were called Little Oyster Island and Great Oyster Island in colonial times.

 

Rich and poor New Yorkers and visitors dined on them in a maritime metropolis filled with vessels and street vendors hawking roasted oysters, long before hot dogs. But they slowly died out by the turn of the 19th century, overwhelmed by industrial waste, sewage, diseases and the dredging of the harbor to make room for shipping and development.

 

Now, new beds of oysters for New York's broken-down ecosystem are budding in more than a half dozen locations in the area. If the water temperature, currents, chemistry and other conditions are right, the bivalve can break down the pollution and thrive. But while suitable for cleanup work, they should not be eaten and poachers should not harvest polluted oysters and sell them for profit.

 

In New York City, oyster restoration projects were started about seven years ago, with the city Department of Parks initiating the one in the Bronx – a 30-foot-long artificial reef made of rubble, old shells and hundreds of mollusks.

 

"It's so shocking that we're out there in the South Bronx and oysters are thriving – shocking to people who wouldn't put their little toe in the water for fear of how polluted it is," says Marit Larson, a water management expert at the department's Natural Resources Group.

 

Larson says the aim of what she calls "ecological engineering" is to create hundreds of acres of reefs in the next decades, populated with mollusks that form naturally spawning colonies. Funding for the projects comes from private and government sources. A 1-acre bed with up to 1 million oysters costs at least $50,000 to plant and manage.

 

Some new plantings in New York Harbor failed because the oysters were swept away by currents and boat wakes. So close attention must be paid to the beds that have succeeded.

 

"The question is `how can we use the natural processes of organisms that were once here in abundance,'" she says. If oyster regeneration can be sustained and expanded, "it's the ultimate success story for one of the most urban and heavily used harbors in the world."

 

Grizzle says the oyster is the perfect aquatic engineer for the job. It pumps water to feed, retains any polluted particles and releases the rest – purified. Each one filters about 50 gallons of water a day.

 

"There's no human engineering substitute for these living things that clean the water," he says as he wades hundreds of feet back to the South Bronx shore.

 

Behind him, a plane takes off from LaGuardia Airport, low over Rikers Island jail.

 

RJ

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Thanks for the good read  RJ



  



a very well known bass location back in the 60's & 70's.... more fishing there now than people know ...my peoples " Urban Pioneers " keeping things to themselves.


FYI official NYS  =  bay scallop


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Are there pollutants that the oysters filter out that do not simply return to the environment when the oyster dies?


(This is an actual question, not an attempt at a political statement)


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I would imagine that they metabolize many organic pollutants. Metals..well.. we all know the warnings about mercury in seafood,  so unless they are removed from the water they are simple redistributed...maybe sequestered until the shells break down.


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Similar to what Woodpecker postulates, I would think the oysters are good to remove organic pollutants (of their own accord), and of course, there are other ecological benefits.


...and I wonder if the heavy metal and pcb laden corpses might be harvested, and used for non-edible purposes, in order to remove some of the contaminants from the rivers?


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