The COVID-19 pandemic hit the aquaculture industry particularly hard. It was facing catastrophic sales losses that would have forced many out of business. Connecticut Sea Grant Extension helped keep industry members afloat during the pandemic
by involving them in shellfish habitat restoration work. We kept people working at a time when the shellfish marketplace collapsed and there was little if any revenue generated from sales. We have 46 companies in Connecticut that employ over 300 individuals. The economic impacts to these families and businesses would have been devastating.
Part of this effort included creating a Shellfish Restoration map. We collaborated with a group of our partners and stakeholders. Industry professionals, regulators, municipal shellfish commissions, and others can use the map. Our efforts to strengthen the industry are continuing with several new initiatives. Visit shellfish.uconn.edu for more information.
If experience really is the best teacher, Deborah Abibou and Alicia Tyson have been to some of the prime places to learn about community resilience work.
Those include locations facing some of the biggest challenges from sea level rise, intensifying storms and other climate change effects: Puerto Rico, Louisiana, Peru and Costa Rica. Now, they’re ready to apply the knowledge they’ve gained toward helping Connecticut’s coastal communities with those same challenges. It’s a task they’re taking on with enthusiasm.
“I’m excited to get to work,” said Tyson.
“I’m really looking forward to diving in,” said Abibou.
The two joined the Connecticut Sea Grant staff on Nov. 19, filling new positions as sustainable and resilient community extension educators. Abibou will be based out of the New Haven County Extension Center in North Haven to focus mainly on coastal communities in the western half of the state. Tyson will work out of the UConn Avery Point campus in Groton to focus on the eastern half. Read more…
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.
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.
“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 21-24, An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Shellfish Restoration Program, The Connecticut Seafood Council and the Taxation of Certain Underwater Farmlands.
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 controlHydrilla 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 foundhere. An informational article from Sen. Blumenthal’s office can be foundhere.
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.
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.
Connecticut 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.
Climate 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.
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.”
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/