Coastal Resources

2022 Long Island Sound Research Conference Announced

  • Clean waters and healthy watershed
  • Thriving habitats and abundant wildlife
  • Sustainable and resilient communities
  • Sound science and inclusive management

Deadline for abstract submissions is April 8, 2022. Registration deadline is May 6, 2022.

Download the flier here. Information: syma.ebbin@uconn.edu

Watch for more details!

#DoOneThing theme of 2021 #DontTrashLISound campaign

The Connecticut Sea Grant program, joined by volunteers from Save the Sound, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and other groups, will launch the fifth annual #DontTrashLISound

campaign with a cleanup at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport on Aug. 16.

This year’s campaign, run by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs with support from the Long Island Sound Study, will run through International Coastal Cleanup Day on Sept. 18. It will consist of cleanup events in both states, social media posts and giveaways of “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers for reusable water bottles and travel mugs.

The theme of this year’s campaign, #DoOneThing, encourages people to take at least one action to reduce litter on streets, parks and beaches before it gets carried into waterways and ultimately Long Island Sound. Social media posts will emphasize positive steps people are taking to address the problem.

“Campaigns like this one help keep people aware of the larger marine debris problem affecting Long Island Sound,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant. “They also help people focus on doable actions that we can all undertake with as much or as little effort as we have time to commit.”

For information on cleanup events, visit: https://www.savethesound.org/2021cleanup/

For information on the #DontTrashLISound campaign and how to obtain “Protect Our Wildlife” stickers, email CT Sea Grant Communications Coordinator Judy Benson at: judy.benson@uconn.edu

Gov. Lamont Signs Legislation Supporting Continued Growth of CT’s Shellfish Industry

Gov. Lamont signs the Shellfish Restoration Bill on July 23 as legislators and industry members look on
Gov. Lamont signs the Shellfish Restoration Bill on July 23 as legislators and industry members look on. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant.

Stratford – Gov. Ned Lamont  joined legislators, state officials, agricultural advocates and business representatives on July 23 for a bill signing ceremony near the shore of the Long Island Sound to commemorate the enactment of legislation implementing policies that will support continued growth of Connecticut’s shellfish industry in an effort to increase the populations of oysters along the state’s shoreline and protect the sustainability of this vibrant sector of the economy.

The shellfish industry is a significant sector of the Connecticut shoreline’s economy, generating more than $30 million in sales annually and supporting 300 jobs statewide. There are currently more than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms under cultivation in Connecticut.

The legislation:

  • extends Public Act 490 protections – which were adopted more than 50 years ago and allow landowners to have their qualifying lands classified as farms and thereby subject to reduced property tax rates – to include aquaculture operations;
  • allows more flexibility to actively manage the natural oyster beds in Long Island Sound, ensuring that Connecticut oysters will be available for future generations through better management of the natural beds; and
  • reconstitutes and expands the Connecticut Seafood Council with new membership to drive the industry forward.

It received overwhelming support from business and agriculture organizations across the state, including the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, the Connecticut chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and numerous small business leaders that depend on the sustainability of Connecticut’s aquaculture to support their operations.

Connecticut Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom highlights the program’s collaborative restoration efforts with the Department of Agricultures during the bill signing ceremony.
Connecticut Sea Grant Associate Director Nancy Balcom highlights the program’s collaborative restoration efforts with the Department of Agricultures during the bill signing ceremony. Tessa Getchis / Connecticut Sea Grant

“Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in Connecticut, and this legislation continues to move the dial on this industry receiving some of the same protections and support that land farmers receive,” Gov. Lamont said. “My administration will continue focusing on commonsense changes like these that business owners in Connecticut deserve. I look forward to seeing this already great industry continue to grow. Let’s spread the word far and wide, Connecticut has some of the best oysters around.”

“This law ensures that the future for the industry is prosperous and encompassing of all the types of aquaculture industry in our state, including seaweed and indoor production,” Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said. “The law also establishes parity and access to the property tax relief program, Public Act 490, to include aquaculture production, further ingraining this industry as a facet of Connecticut agriculture. Many thanks to the industry, the Connecticut Farm Bureau, and UConn Sea Grant for their partnership and commitment to this proposal and the future of the aquaculture in our state.”

“On behalf of its members and aquaculture farmers, the Connecticut Farm Bureau thanks Gov. Lamont and the legislature for their support of this very important legislation,” Connecticut Farm Bureau President Paul Larson and Executive Director Joan Nichols said in a joint statement. “This legislation provides both financial relief and equity in taxation for aquaculture farmers across Connecticut by expanding Public Act 490 to include aquaculture into the state’s definition of farmland.”

The governor noted that shellfish aquaculture also provides a number of environmental benefits, including by improving sediment quality through the harvesting process, stabilizing sediments and helping to protect the shoreline from erosion, and providing critical ecosystem functions by creating structure and habitat for other species that provide a food source for fish and other marine species.

The legislation is Public Act 21-24An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Shellfish Restoration Program, The Connecticut Seafood Council and the Taxation of Certain Underwater Farmlands.

New Haven artist chosen for 2021 CTSG Arts Support Award

Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski
Joseph Smolinski works on a sea coal mosaic in his New Haven studio. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

Beachcombing with his wife and two children led New Haven artist Joseph Smolinski to the source of inspiration and raw materials for works he will create for Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2021 Arts Support Award Program that reflect on the human impacts of climate change.

His project, titled “Carbon Adrift: Sea Coal in the Long Island Sound” was chosen for the annual arts award program now in its 12th year. It awards $1,000 annually to artists to create works relevant to coastal and marine environments and Connecticut Sea Grant themes and who are expected to display their works widely.

“The older I get, the more I realize that creativity comes from things like leisure time, when you’re not trying to make art,” said Smolinski, chairman of the Department of Art and Design at the University of New Haven. “My family spends a lot of time on the shore exploring, and we started finding these dark rocks and I started wondering, ‘Are they natural or anthropogenic?’”

Those dark rocks turned out to be sea coal, both dislodged from coal deposits by natural forces and mined pieces that probably fell off barges and cargo ships.

“At every beach I’ve been to on Long Island Sound I’ve found them, from pieces as small as grains of sand to some as big as a hand, four to five inches across,” said Smolinski.

Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach.
Joseph Smolinski holds one of the pieces of sea coal found on a Long Island Sound beach. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

He began reflecting on the processes that transformed plant matter into sea coal over millennium, and the use of coal as a fuel source by modern humans that contributes to climate change now threatening the planet. That evolved into the idea of using sea coal to make art that speaks both to its history in geological time scales, and to the impacts of the rapid consumption of fossil fuels by humans. The result will be mosaics of intricately patterned pieces of sea coal fixed to wood panels that Smolinski described as “images of the setting sun over Long Island Sound” that are intended to depict the sun as “the energy source that gives coal its anthropogenic value.”

In a complementary project that will be created for the project titled “Open Water,” Smolinski will use images of sunsets over the open waters of the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean onto which water is sprayed, then various pigments applied. By pairing the monochromatic mosaics with the “highly colorful and energetic nautical renderings” of the seascapes, Smolinski hopes to call attention to the future of the world ocean and its central role in human survival. He also hopes to develop a website for schools and environmental groups with information from his research about sea coal and the works created for his project. The various works will be created over the next year.

The independent review panel for the arts award said Smolinski’s project stood out for its “strong conceptual relationship between humans’ effect on the environment and artwork.” The panel also noted that the work addressed issues of materiality associated with environmental issues, eloquently evoking the transformation of materials such as coal through time.

“The submissions that we receive in response to the Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Support Awards program continue to amaze me with their varied aesthetic interpretations of Sea Grant’s mission,” said Syma Ebbin, CT Sea Grant research coordinator. “In addition to the creation of several art pieces, Joseph’s proposal will generate significant research and potentially will yield an educational website, gallery exhibitions, and a series of lectures to provide access to the art and science behind the art to local schools and the diverse communities within Connecticut.”

More information: Judy Benson, CT Sea Grant communications coordinator: judy.benson@uconn.edu; (860) 287-6426

One of the seascapes created for the "Open Water" series by Joseph Smolinski.
One of the seascapes created for the “Open Water” series by Joseph Smolinski. Photo: Jessica Smolinski

CT Sea Grant Post

1st marine economics fellow to focus on natural coastal resources

Ethan Addicott
Ethan Addicott

By Judy Benson

Oversimplified, shoreline beaches are where the sand meets the sea.
Too often, this two-dimensional view has become the foundation of efforts to restore storm and erosion-battered beaches on Long Island Sound and other coastal areas. These projects mainly seek to widen the flat open sand swathe to maintain maximum recreational worth and protect nearby areas from storm and flood damage. Dune grass, beach pea, and the dunes these and other plants inhabit along the shore have largely been left out of the equation.

But thanks to a new marine and coastal economics fellowship created by Connecticut Sea Grant, a Yale University doctoral candidate will spend the next year and a half developing restoration tools that account for the real-world complexity and value of natural and manmade features beyond the sand. The fellowship is funded with $20,000 of the federal funds allocated to CT Sea Grant.

“I’ve been interested in coastal ecosystems since I was young, growing up in Miami,” said Ethan Addicott, 29, who is pursuing his doctorate in environmental and resource economics at Yale and was chosen for the fellowship post. “I’m working to quantify the relationship between healthy dune ecosystems and property values, to enhance the relationship between natural resources and management decision making.”

CT Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise said Addicott’s project will accomplish the two main goals of the new fellowship. It was created to help train a new generation of students in marine and coastal economics, and to give coastal communities new resources to draw on in making decisions about threatened coastal areas.

Read More

‘Born Out of Crises’ Issue Looks at Responses to Pandemic, Disasters

Spring-Summer 2021 Wrack Lines issueThe Spring-Summer 2021 issue of Wrack Lines examines actions that grew from different crises, from the pandemic to sea level rise to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

The issue leads off with an article by Robert Klee, former commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, reflecting on the valuable lessons we can take from the pandemic to improve the environment and our communities. Other articles describe how Connecticut’s seafood growers, harvesters and sellers weathered the pandemic, and how their counterparts in Southeast Asia fared.

Two more articles examine the slower-moving crises of sea level rise in coastal and inland communities in Connecticut and North Carolina and the role of managed retreat or buyouts.  The final piece showcases the research of Connecticut Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise on dolphins experiencing long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The entire issue can be found here.

Articles in this issue:

Editor’s column

“Rebuilding a hopeful future after a year of loss”

“Tested by the pandemic, seafood businesses now poised to emerge stronger”

“Small-scale fisheries in Southeast Asia see harsh impacts of COVID-19”

“A tale of two coastal states as the world gets wetter”

“CTSG’s De Guise helped lead research into long-term effects of Deepwater Horizon oil spill on dolphins”

This issue continues the “Talk to Us” feature soliciting reader comments, many of which will be shared on the CTSG website. Share your feedback and questions with Wrack Lines Editor Judy Benson at: judy.benson@uconn.edu. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

CTSG Post 

Sen. Blumenthal Seeks Funding for CT River Hydrilla Control

Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Sen. Richard Blumenthal talks about the threat of the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla to the Connecticut River at an event in Middletown on June 3.  Judy Preston / Connecticut Sea Grant

Sen. Richard Blumenthal announced on June 3 that he is leading an effort to secure $100 million over four years in federal funding for a multistate effort to control hydrilla in the Connecticut River watershed.

In an event at Harbor Park in Middletown, Blumenthal said he is seeking an urgent fiscal year 2022 appropriation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Aquatic Nuisance Research Program and the Aquatic Plant Control Program to create a task force to control Hydrilla verticillata.

The invasive plant has spread exponentially throughout the Connecticut River, from Agawam, MA., to Essex, CT. The hydrilla in the Connecticut River has been shown through genetic testing to be a type not previously found in the United States. Hydrilla poses a great risk to the wetland ecosystems, public drinking water supplies and recreational and tourism industries in New England and New York state, according to information from Blumenthal’s office.

The task force would be centered in Connecticut and led by the Army Corps, the Aquatic Invasive Species Program of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It would create and implement a strategic Plan of Action that would:

  • prevent further spread
  • mitigate hydrilla’s affects
  • eradicate where feasible
  • monitor to ensure rapid response to future occurrences

Connecticut Sea Grant has joined 14 other government agencies, environmental and community groups thus far in support of Blumenthal’s efforts. Connecticut Sea Grant’s letter of support can be found here.  An informational article from Sen. Blumenthal’s office can be found here.

hydrilla
Hydrilla growing in the Connecticut River

 

group of people standing infront of CT river
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, second from left, joins representatives of some of the 15 groups that are thus far supporting the efforts to obtain funding for control of hydrilla in the Connecticut River. Judy Preston / Connecticut Sea Grant

 

Original Post

Sea Grant, DOE, NOAA Fisheries partner to invest $1M+ to support research for the co-existence of ocean energy with Northeast fishing and coastal communities

The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, announces a research funding opportunity to improve understanding of offshore renewable energy interactions with fishing and coastal communities to optimize ocean co-use.

This unique funding partnership will support objective, community-focused research on ocean renewable energy—including offshore wind and hydrokinetic current, tidal, and wave energies—in the U.S. Northeast for the benefit of a diversity of communities and stakeholders.

With a focus on advancing community and economic resilience, the funding opportunity aims to catalyze proactive socio-economic and technology research for offshore renewable energy planning in the Northeast. Over $1 million will be available to support research projects across three innovative areas:

  • Fisheries and Fishing Community Resilience
  • Coastal Community and Economic Resilience
  • Co-Location Management of Ocean Renewable Energy with Other Marine Activities

The Northeast Sea Grant Consortium and federal partners seek collaborative, multidisciplinary, and innovative proposals with results that will be valuable to a variety of stakeholders, from the fishing industry to resource managers, as the U.S. ocean energy landscape evolves.

The funding competition is accepting pre-proposals from eligible Northeast researchers through May 14, 2021. Read more about the Request for Proposals here.

The initiative was announced as part of a Biden Administration fact sheet on wind energy, issued from the White House briefing room on March 29: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/29/fact-sheet-biden-administration-jumpstarts-offshore-wind-energy-projects-to-create-jobs/.

Graphic for Ocean Renewable Energies research initiativeThe Northeast Sea Grant Consortium consists of the Connecticut, Maine, MIT, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Woods Hole Sea Grant Programs. Sea Grant’s mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment.

NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center works with the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office to ensure informed management decisions based on sound science, promoting sustainability of marine life, supporting fisheries and coastal communities, and generating economic opportunities and benefits from the use of these resources.

DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office are committed to developing and deploying innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from natural renewable resources such as wind, hydropower, waves, and tides. The mission is to enable energy science research, development, and testing of new technologies to advance innovative energy systems in the United States.

Original Post 

LIS Blue Plan now in hands of CT Legislature

bull kelp in ocean looking up towards surfaceThe Long Island Sound Blue Plan, a marine spatial plan for what many consider the state’s most valuable natural resource, has been voted out of the state Legislature’s Environment Committee and awaits a vote in the full House and Senate. Read about the plan and why many believe it should be approved in articles by CT Sea Grant Communications Coordinator Judy Benson published March 5 in Connecticut Hearst Media newspapers, March 7 in The Day of New London and March 10 in the Connecticut Mirror.

Read the article published in The Day here.

Read the article published in CT Hearst Media newspapers here.

Read the article published in the Connecticut Mirror here.

The Long Island Sound Blue Plan can be found here.

CT Sea Grant Fellowship Opportunities

salt marsh
Image by Judy Benson, Connecticut Sea Grant

Connecticut Sea Grant has announced new fellowship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students!

  • To learn more about the Undergraduate Summer Marine Science Research Fellowship for Underrepresented/Underserved Students click here.
  • To learn more about the Coastal & Marine Economics Fellowship 2021-22 click here.