Sea Grant

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.

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

A Guide to Planting Along the Connecticut Coast

monarch butterfly on joe pye weed
A monarch pollinates on blooming Joe Pye weed, as marsh mallow blooms in the background. Juliana Barrett / Connecticut Sea Grant.

Juliana Barrett, Ph.D. and Kiernan Sellars, 2021

This 35-page guide lists native trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and vines that are appropriate for planting in Connecticut’s coastal zone. It includes a map of that ecoregion and characteristics of each species, such as tolerance to salt water and salt spray, light and soil requirements as well as wildlife and pollinator value. 

Download here in PDF.

Publication Number CTSG-21-02

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 

Connecticut Sea Grant’s Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report

Men shoveling-CTSG 2020 annual report coverConnecticut Sea Grant’s Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report is now available. With photos, graphics, and summaries of many  projects and initiatives, it’s a great way to get a quick overview of Connecticut Sea Grant‘s programs. It is available here.

Original Post

Tackling the climate change challenge, one place at a time

climate corps students in classClimate change is perhaps the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, and just thinking about it can make someone feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

How can the next generation of environmental professionals be prepared to deal a problem that big?

One answer could be found this fall in the Climate Corps class taught at the University of Connecticut by Sea Grant’s Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, land use academy director at UConn CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education & Research). Now in its second year, the course invites students to tackle this global challenge on local scales, methodically breaking it down into more manageable parts.

Read more….

Story and photos by Judy Benson

Extension’s Climate Adaptation Academy Explores Legal Issues

living shoreline
Living shoreline in Stonington. Photo: Juliana Barrett.

The Climate Corps is in part a response to the ongoing work of Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, two Extension educators who form the CLEAR/Sea Grant climate team. The Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA) created by the two has been engaging community officials, citizens and others for over four years, in a series of iterative workshops designed to gather input as much as to dispense information. The CAA’s latest focus is on the many legal issues that can arise at the local level as a result of climate change. A workshop in the fall of 2015 on this topic, Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, was a sell-out and ended with a long Q&A session between workshop participants and a panel of six prominent land use attorneys. Faced with a long list of complex legal questions, only a few of which could be addressed at the workshop, Barrett and Hyde decided to pursue the matter by contacting the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program (one of only four Sea Grant legal and policy centers in the nation). The result is a new series of fact sheets on high priority climate-related legal issues, which are being widely distributed and will be the basis for follow-up workshops. “We feel that we’re exploring some very important issues that have not been addressed to date, likely because they are relatively new and complex,” says Hyde. “I think this proves that the iterative nature of the CAA works, because these issues surfaced at the workshop and came straight from the towns.”

Legal Issues and Climate Adaptation

fact sheets
A number of questions were raised at Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, a conference held by UConn CLEAR’s and Connecticut Sea Grant’s Climate Adaptation Academy in late 2015. The Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program at Roger Williams University School of Law reviewed the questions, which came from the audience during the course of the conference. The Legal Program then developed four fact sheets addressing the following topics: Takings and Coastal Management; Property and Permitting Boundaries at the Shoreline; Government Tort Liability for Disclosure of Flood Hazard Information; Flood and Erosion Control Structures. The fact sheets can be found at: http://climate.uconn.edu/
Also a UConn Clear Webinar with regard to the fact sheets will be held on May 2:  http://clear.uconn.edu/webinars/CLEARseries17/index.htm

Living Shoreline Workshop

living shoreline meeting

Connecticut Sea Grant and Extension’s CLEAR hosted the second Living Shoreline Workshop in June as part of the Climate Adaptation Academy. This workshop brought over 100 participants together to hear experts from Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and other states including Connecticut talk about different aspects of living shorelines including on the ground examples and what has and hasn’t worked.