In attempt to meet the increased demand for seaweed, aquaculture producers are working to expand the North American seaweed farming industry. However, efforts to strengthen the industry have highlighted the need to address emerging challenges. “Processing capabilities, long term nursery production, and competition with imports” are among the most prevalent concerns says Anoushka Concepcion, an Extension educator with Connecticut Sea Grant. Concepcion is leading the National Seaweed Hub, a collaborative effort of 11 Sea Grant programs in the United States addressing the needs of the seaweed industry.
Empty oyster and clam shells from Long Island Sound shouldn’t be treated like trash.
They are vital components of healthy habitat for shellfish and other marine life, and need to be returned to their watery home instead of being hauled away with other garbage. That’s the message shell recycling advocates are advancing as part of a new statewide initiative.
“Virtually all the shell that goes to restaurants and markets is being discarded,” said Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist for CT Sea Grant and UConn Extension. “Connecticut is in the rare position of having some of the few self-sustaining populations of oyster beds in the world. We need to get that shell back in the water so that healthy beds remain productive, and so we can rebuild those in suboptimal condition.”
At 7:30 p.m. on April 4, Getchis will give a presentation on the history of the Connecticut oyster beds and the state’s efforts to restore this critical habitat, and UConn Marine Sciences Professor Zofia Baumann will follow with an overview of her efforts to develop a shell recycling program in the town of Groton. The shell recycling initiative is being launched as part of a broader effort to restore the state’s natural shellfish beds to preserve and enhance their vital economic, environmental and cultural contributions.
The program at the UConn Avery Point campus, titled, “Ensuring the Future Viability of Connecticut’s Natural Oyster Beds,” is part of the annual Coastal Perspectives public lecture series held in the campus auditorium. Admission is free, and the program can also be accessed virtually.
Several special events are planned for Earth Day (April 22) at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, including audiovisual artwork projected on campus buildings and an original puppet show.
Events will begin at 6:30 p.m. with music recorded by the five-person Connecticut-based groupHitch and Giddyupsponsored by the Avery Point EcoHusky club. At 7 p.m., UConn Puppet Arts graduate student Felicia Cooper will performISH, an original one-woman puppet show for all ages inspired byMoby-Dick. UConn Dairy Bar Coastal Crunch ice cream will be served after the show.
From 8 to 9 p.m., there will be a performance of the audiovisual work, “Reading the Wrack Lines,” created byConnecticut CollegeProfessor Andrea Wollensak. This will feature creative writing responses to climate change by UConn Avery Point and Connecticut College students used as audiovisual source material within a generative multimedia artwork projected onto both the Branford House the Avery Point Lighthouse. Collaborators for “Reading the Wrack Lines” include software developer Bridget Baird and sound artist Brett Terry. The exhibit is being presented in cooperation with TheAlexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art.
The events are free and open to up to 200 attendees to comply with Gov. Lamont’s Executive Orders for outdoor gatherings during the pandemic. Attendees should bring their own chair or blanket, wear face masks and maintain 6-foot social distancing. Rain date will be Friday April 23 at the same times. No pre-registration is required to attend.
“As a professor and CT Sea Grant research coordinator, I’m excited to be involved in this project,” said Syma Ebbin, who teaches courses in environmental and marine science and policy. “It seeks to integrate the personal creative reflections of students focused on coastal environments and the
human footprint—encompassing climate change, marine debris and plastics, among other topics they’ve explored this semester—within a generative and interactive video.
“I think the project themes resonate with and amplify the meaning of Earth Day and will generate deeper understandings in both students and the larger audience,” Ebbin said.
About the artists and their work:
Andrea Wollensak is a professor of art at Connecticut College whose work spans media from traditional to digital fabrication, to generative-interactive systems. She has collaborated with computer scientists, musicians, poets and scientists on works that explore themes of place-based narratives on environment and community. To learn more about her work, visit:https://www.andreawollensak.com/.
Felicia Cooper createdISHas part of her Master of Fine Arts in the UConn Puppet Arts program and performed it for audiences in downtown Storrs three times in March. Based loosely onMoby-Dick, it retells the story as if Ishmael were an 11-year-old girl and the whale were friendlier. She uses shadow puppets, object performance in a suitcase and original music composed by Juliana Carr in the show.
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 Northeast Sea Grant Consortiumconsists 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 Centerworks 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 Officeare 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.
While the pandemic curtailed many favorite activities, recreational shellfishing remained popular and even surged in many shoreline towns last year.
“Clamming is a very COVID-friendly activity,” said Peter Harris, chairman of the Waterford-East Lyme Shellfish Commission. “You’re outside, you have a nice long rake so you stay socially distanced, and you get a nice food source.”
More than 500 shellfishing permits sold in 2020 for the WELSCO beds in the Niantic River – about the same number as in 2019, but COVID concerns did have an impact. One of the most popular areas had to be closed because too many boats were congregating there, creating a “party atmosphere” that wasn’t safe, he said. Finding a way to safely sell permits also proved challenging.
Similar stories of strong interest in shellfishing in 2020 along with unique challenges presented by the pandemic were heard from representatives of the 12 commissions that attended the Annual Meeting of Shellfish Commissions on Feb. 13. Usually conducted in-person, this year’s virtual meeting brought together about 35 of the volunteers who serve on municipal commissions along with scientists, regulators and extension specialists from the state Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture and Connecticut Sea Grant.
The experts presented updates onmonitoring programsfor the various pathogens that can cause illnesses and force shellfish bed closures, a review of water sampling protocols and in-person inspections of areas being considered for new bed openings.
“We can now assess mooring areas differently, and we may be able to create opportunities in some new areas,” said Alissa Dragan, environmental analyst at the Bureau of Aquaculture. “Our goal is to have one or two new areas opened in the next year.”
Before inviting each of the commissions to report on the past year, Tessa Getchis, aquaculture extension specialist at Connecticut Sea Grant, shared some of the projects underway or being considered to advance awareness and collaboration about recreational shellfishing. Those include the possible creation of an association of shellfish commissions and a shared online platform where members of different commissions could share information. An analysis of the impact of economic impact of recreational shellfishing is in the works, she added.
“We want to show how important the sector is and how important your work is,” she said.
Learn about bringing more diversity to the sciences, environmental justice, the Shoreline Greenway Trail, a new diversity fellowship and the unique career of Bob Pomeroy with fish and fishermen across the globe in the Fall-Winter 2020-21 issue ofWrack Linesmagazine.
With the theme of “Diverse Perspectives in the Environment We Share,” the issue highlights the contributions of writers and photographers from diverse backgrounds delving into topics that are local, statewide, national and international in scope.
This issue also launches the “Talk to Us” feature soliciting reader comments, many of which will be shared on the CTSG website. Comments should be sent toWrack Lineseditor Judy Benson at: firstname.lastname@example.org.