CT Sea Grant

Payne named to Global Group of Ocean Literacy Experts

Diana Payne, white woman with medium length brown hair and black t-shirtThe United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has established an international Group of Experts on Ocean Literacy, with 20 members from diverse disciplines, stakeholder groups, geographical regions, and with a focus on gender balance. The group includes Connecticut Sea Grant Education Coordinator Diana Payne.

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) selected for its new Group of Experts on Ocean Literacy 20 renowned professionals from diverse and relevant disciplines and interested parties, reflecting the multi-stakeholder nature of ocean literacy and taking into consideration geographical and gender balance. UNESCO made the announcement in an article posted on its website on May 18.

Experts were selected following a call to Member States and partner organizations and suggestions from the IOC/UNESCO Secretariat. The Group has yet to elect a Chair and Vice-Chair to guide its activities together with the Secretariat.

“Ocean Literacy is a fundamental tool to advance ocean sustainability. The IOC/UNESCO is becoming a leading force in promoting Ocean Literacy across different regions and countries,” said Francesca Santoro, Senior Programme Officer for Ocean Literacy at the IOC-UNESCO Secretariat. “We look forward to working with the Group of Experts to bring their diverse expertise together with different perspectives and approaches.”

Payne said promoting ocean literacy is a core mission of the Ocean Decade, a UN-sponsored initiative that began in 2021 that she has been part of.

“Ocean Literacy is the foundation of the success of the Ocean Decade, as environmental literacy is to all we do in Sea Grant,” she said. “I’m honored and humbled to be named to the IOC-UNESCO Ocean Literacy Group of Experts. There is so much important work to be done to fundamentally change humanity’s relationship with the ocean.”

Read the complete article here. 

Native Plants for Riparian Corridors in CT Guide Available

The Native Plants for Riparian Corridors in CT guide from Connecticut Sea Grant is now available! The guide includes native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, reeds and herbaceous plants that can grow and thrive along bodies of water.

Download the guide at seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=10305


Volunteers planting a riparian buffer.
Volunteers planting a riparian buffer. Photo courtesy of Judy Rondea

New England Kelp Harvest Week

Rice Paper Rolls with KelpJoin us for the New England Kelp Harvest Week celebration April 20th through April 30th!

Connecticut Sea Grant has been collaborating with the state’s aquaculture industry to develop sugar kelp farming and a market for the product. This week kelp famers are partnering with restaurants across Connecticut to provide tasty dishes with locally grown kelp. Support the local kelp industry by visiting one of the restaurants participating and spread the word to your friends and family. You can also learn how to incorporate kelp into your meals at one of the cooking classes offered by New England Kelp Harvest. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity.

To find participating restaurants and upcoming events visit New England Kelp Harvest.

Learn more about collaborations between Connecticut Sea Grant and the Kelp industry in the following videos:



Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2022 Annual Report Now Available

Post by Connecticut Sea Grantwoman holding a fish, CTSG logo

Connecticut Sea Grant’s 2022 Annual Report is now available as a downloadable pdf. It offers highlights of CTSG’s accomplishments for the 2021-22 Sea Grant fiscal year, which runs from February 2021 through January 2022. The annual report features information about CTSG’s budget and summaries of projects and programs in: fisheries and aquaculture; workforce development; resilient communities; environmental literacy; coastal ecosystems and watershed; and research, presented alongside multiple engaging images showcasing our work. 

Click here to download the report.



9 Projects Focus on LIS Marshes, Water Quality, Public Beaches

wetlands with blue sky and clouds

Long Island Sound water quality, salt marsh and public beach characteristics will be examined by marine and social scientists in nine research projects awarded funding by the Connecticut and New York Sea Grant programs (CTSG and NYSG respectively) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study (LISS) Research Grant Program.

These new projects, which seek information that can be used to improve the conditions of the estuary for humans and wildlife, are being supported by $4.2 million in federal funds. That will be supplemented with matching funds of $2.1 million, for a total research package of more than $6.3 million.

The projects will be conducted over two years beginning this spring. The results will build on the substantial body of research funded through the LISS Research Grant Program administered by CTSG and NYSG since 2008 which has contributed to improved understanding and management of this nationally recognized estuary. Cumulatively, this represents the largest research investment in the Sound, which has been designated an estuary of national significance and one of the most valuable natural resources for both states.

Click here to learn more about the projects.


Foundations of Shellfish Farming Training Course 2023

Registration: http://s.uconn.edu/shellfish 

Cost: $300

Foundations of Shellfish Farming is a training course for new and prospective farmers and those who simply seek to learn more about aquaculture practices and techniques. Topics that will be covered include: how to establish and operate a shellfish business; leasing and permitting requirements; considerations for gear, vessels, and facilities, shellfish biology, aquaculture techniques and best practices, and risks involved in farming shellfish. Although the course will concentrate on Long Island Sound waters within the jurisdiction of Connecticut, the topics and practices covered are applicable in the Northeast United States and potentially beyond. 


When: Tuesdays, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, weekly from January 24th to April 11th 

Location: UConn Avery Point Campus, Groton, CT, Lowell P. Weicker Jr.  Building, Room 312

Outline: http://s.uconn.edu/course-schedule

Instructors: Michael Gilman and Tessa L. Getchis

Sponsors: Connecticut Sea Grant, UConn Extension, and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture

*This course meets the Connecticut Department of Agriculture eligibility requirement for the submission of a Joint Agency Application for Marine Aquaculture. 

Additional questions can be emailed to: shellfish@uconn.edu 

Novice or veteran, fishermen value safety & survival training

Participants in Safety at Sea training practice boarding a life raft.
Participants in Safety at Sea training practice boarding a life raft.

Story and photos by Judy Benson

Dan Russell and Abraham Powell are at opposite ends of their fishing careers.

While both work from vessels docked in New London, Russell is a boat captain who’s been fishing for 50 years. Powell is brand new, having been hired a month ago.

“I haven’t even been out on a boat yet,” he said.

Yet they agreed the Safety at Sea training Oct. 20 and 21 was time well spent regardless of whether they were seasoned or beginner in this ancient and perilous trade. Sponsored by Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Avery Point in collaboration with Fishing Partnership Support Services and the U.S. Coast Guard, the free training put 49 commercial fishermen, state marine agency staff and UConn Marine Science Department researchers and vessel crews through intensive hands-on and classroom lessons that could one day save their lives.

“I learned about some of the new flares and some of the new emergency gear,” said Russell, who first learned safety skills many years ago from the Coast Guard but had never been to the Sea Grant-sponsored training for a refresher.

Anthony Minteins, who fishes for scallops about the Invictus, wraps neoprene gloves around a leak during a flooding and damage control drill.
Anthony Mintiens, who fishes for scallops about the Invictus, wraps neoprene gloves around a leak during a flooding and damage control drill.

Sea Grant has been sponsoring the training with various partners about every two years since 2000 and teamed up with the Fishing Partnership in 2016.

“Hosting these training opportunities to build a culture of safety is one of the most important things I can do for those who work on the water for a living,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director and extension program leader for Connecticut Sea Grant. “It’s especially fitting that we held this training in October, National Seafood Month.”

The classroom portion of the program included an overview of MAYDAY call procedures, PFDs (personal flotation devices) and other safety equipment, interspersed with accounts of real-life tales of survival and tragedies at sea from the instructors, many of whom worked in the industry themselves. Shannon Eldredge, marine safety instructor and community health worker for Fishing Partnership, prefaced a segment on overdose response with a reminder about why fishermen need to be alert for opioid use among their colleagues.

“You don’t get sick time,” she said. “You’re working through pain, and you’re using prescription drugs. You’re going to be the first responders to an overdose.”

That segued into a presentation by Trish Rios, community health worker for the Alliance for Living in New London, about how to administer the overdose reversal drug NARCAN. She recommended every vessel have at least two doses in its first aid kit, and brought several dozen packages of the drug for each fishing vessel to take.

The training then moved outdoors, where groups moved between stations to practice how to deploy signal flares; don immersion suits and board life rafts; put out onboard fires; and repair flooding and vessel damage at sea.

Dana Collyer, one of the instructors, urged all those who make their living on the water to buy their own immersion suits and make sure they fit properly, rather than using one supplied by their vessel.

“This is the most important piece of safety gear you have,” he said.

Another instructor, Mark Bisnette, emphasized the importance of inspecting the suits regularly to ensure they haven’t deteriorated from dry rot. Both he and Collyer are marine surveyors with Marine Safety Consultants Inc.

“You’ve got to maintain it,” Bisnette said. “This is your parachute.”

At the onboard damage control station, Kyra Dwyer, Coast Guard fishing vessel examiner, led groups in practicing how to repair leaks using rope, duct tape, wood wedges, neoprene strips and other equipment they would have onboard. On a facsimile boat deck, teams worked furiously as Dwyer opened valves to send water spraying out from pipes and various seams.

After one crew successfully plugged a series of leaks, she congratulated them.

“You guys had some success,” she said. “You’re going home. You saved the ship.”

A demonstration of how to deploy a life raft concluded the first day.

Fishermen and state agency marine agency staff deploy emergency flares on the beach at UConn Avery Point.
Fishermen and state agency marine agency staff deploy emergency flares on the beach at UConn Avery Point.

Anthony Mintiens, who’s been fishing for scallops on the Stonington-based vessel Invictus for the past eight years, said he’s taken the training before but was grateful for the chance to hone his skills.

“It was totally worth it,” he said. “I don’t want to go down with the ship in the freezing cold.”

The second day was geared to a smaller group of 14 training for certification to conduct monthly safety drills for crew members. It covered such topics as cold-water survival, helicopter rescues and emergency station bills. The day ended with a test of whether participants could put on their immersion suits in 60 seconds or less, followed by simulation of man-overboard and abandon ship drills on board the Emma & Maria, a fishing vessel owned by Michael Theiler, who worked with Sea Grant to organize the training.

Theiler, New London-based commercial fisherman and member of Sea Grant’s Senior Advisory Board, said the hands-on aspect of the training is especially valuable because of the changing makeup of fishing crews.

“We have a pretty high turnover, so it’s especially important to have these trainings,” he said. “For the new guys especially, it’s very helpful to give them familiarity with the safety equipment and a chance to learn the procedures. And it’s a chance for the crew and the captain to work together on a team on these various scenarios.”



Community climate planning projects underway in four CT cities

Doreen Abubaker, of the Community Placement Engagement Network and West River Watershed Partnership, talks to a group at the New Haven Folk Festival about climate change impacts in New Haven and the upcoming Climathon
Doreen Abubaker, of the Community Placement Engagement Network and West River Watershed Partnership, talks to a group at the New Haven Folk Festival about climate change impacts in New Haven and the upcoming Climathon. Photo: Steve Hamm.

Four Connecticut cities have joined a pilot project to boost community participation in climate change planning.

Community activities in Bridgeport, New Haven, New London and Norwich are being led by Connecticut Sea Grant with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will focus on climate risk communication and planning for community resilience. The pilot project received a $75,000 NOAA investment in Fiscal Year 2022, which will be administered by Connecticut Sea Grant.

“Equity is central to how we conduct business at the Department of Commerce — and how we plan for the future,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “By developing and refining techniques for engaging vulnerable populations, this project will help ensure that communities in Connecticut are in charge of their climate future.”

In New Haven, Connecticut Sea Grant has hosted two information booths and workshops at community events—all leading up to a “Climathon” on Oct. 29 to engage residents in understanding and reducing climate vulnerabilities in their neighborhoods. Steve Hamm, one of the founders of Reimagining New Haven, a grassroots group working on the Climathon, describes the Fair Haven neighborhood where the Climathon will be held as “ground zero” for climate change in New Haven.

“We hope to make New Haven more resilient, equitable and just by engaging with a diverse set of people from our communities to catalyze action—drawing on scientific expertise, local voices and the arts,” Hamm said. “We welcome everyone to come to the Climathon and to help make changes.”

A similar series of community climate events is being planned for Bridgeport in the spring.

Connecticut Sea Grant is also partnering with leaders from local NAACP chapters, Indigenous and tribal communities, racial justice and arts organizations on events planned this fall in Norwich and New London. Participants will consider climate change impacts in the context of other community challenges such as housing, education, mental health, racial justice and food security, and develop actions to address them.

Key components of activities in all four communities include practical incentives for participation, such as offering transportation and gift cards, scheduling events at optimal times for working families and using locally owned businesses to provide food and refreshments.

“Connecticut Sea Grant is well-positioned to support this pilot project because we work alongside communities every day to connect NOAA’s climate products and services to those who need them,” said Sylvain De Guise, Connecticut Sea Grant director. “But, we’ve got to get better at working with the communities who need these services the most. Populations that are most impacted by climate-related hazards like flooding and storm surge need to be at the table if we are going to be successful.”

The pilot project aligns with efforts at the state level to develop policy recommendations through an equity lens. Connecticut’s Equity & Environmental Justice Working Group, part of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change, was instrumental in organizing officials and environmental justice experts for a 2021 NOAA roundtable where participants shared their lived experience with climate planning and the barriers and challenges associated with getting a seat at the policy table. Activities to involve vulnerable communities in climate and resilience planning were a primary recommendation of the listening session that informed the pilot project.

“I am so pleased to see this pilot provide the resources needed to break down those barriers and try some of the approaches highlighted in the Council process,” said Rebecca French, director of the Office of Climate Planning in the Office of the Commissioner at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “I look forward to learning how the state can continue to improve our work in this space.”

“Climate hazards such as flooding and storm surge threaten communities across Connecticut,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “This pilot project will help give vulnerable communities the tools they need to meaningfully inform climate planning, and allow people to take an active role in becoming climate-ready and resilient.”

This pilot project builds on NOAA’s commitment to sustained engagement with underserved communities, and is part of an investment in seven pilot projects happening across the country. Each regional pilot is responding directly to feedback received from partners during climate and equity roundtable discussions that NOAA conducted in 2021. Pilots are taking a unique, place-based approach to helping vulnerable communities better understand, prepare for and respond to climate change.

Learn more about upcoming pilot project announcements and NOAA’s ongoing environmental justice efforts.


October 29, 1-6 p.m.
Martinez School
100 James Street
Fair Haven, CT
Contact: https://reimaginingnewhaven.org/contact-us
Register for this free event: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-haven-climathon-tickets-434198518457
Climathon information: https://reimaginingnewhaven.org/our-projects/f/our-design-charrette

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/

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