Tessa Getchis, Connecticut Sea Grant/UConn Extension aquaculture educator at the University of Connecticut, has been awarded a grant totaling $315,240 to enhance the growth of Connecticut aquaculture and shellfisheries. The project, titled “Listening, Learning and Leading to Support Shellfish Aquaculture Growth in Connecticut and the Nation” is funded by the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program’s Aquaculture Technology Transfer Initiative.
The effort will allow Connecticut Sea Grant, UConn Extension staff and key partners including the Connecticut Bureau of Aquaculture and the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Milford Laboratory to carry out activities meant to enhance public awareness of Connecticut’s shellfish resources. The work will support the ongoing Connecticut Shellfish Initiative. The Initiative, a multi-year effort, brings together local interests, including commercial and recreational shellfishermen, municipal shellfish commissioners, academics, NGOs and state and federal resource managers to work together to grow the shellfish industry, increase recreational shellfishing opportunities and enhance natural shellfish populations in Connecticut.
Among the grant activities to be implemented is a public perception survey to help inform a new outreach and education campaign on Connecticut shellfish resources. Community interaction on shellfish topics will also be enhanced by events such as Ag Day at the Capitol, seminars, booths at shellfish festivals and clam digs and use of social media. Another key aspect of the effort will be an economic assessment of Connecticut’s shellfish aquaculture industry and a report on the results.
Finally, the shellfish aquaculture team will collaborate with other states and regions that are developing shellfish initiatives and promote the NOAA National Shellfish Initiative. The goal of the national initiative is to increase populations of bivalve shellfish in our nation’s coastal waters—including oysters, clams, abalone, and mussels—through both sustainable commercial production and restoration activities.