Human demand for seafood is rising, but the world ocean can only provide a limited share of what we consume. Over the last 50 years, the average annual growth in seafood production exceeded that of all other types of terrestrial animal production. In 2018, global seafood production was estimated at an all-time high of 178.8 million metric tons, with farmed seafood representing nearly half of the total of all seafood produced.
With capture fisheries production nearly stagnant, aquaculture has been rapidly expanding to meet the needs of a growing population. A new report includes findings from a survey of Connecticut residents about their seafood related consumption, knowledge, behaviors and preferences.
The purpose of the study was to collect data to inform the development of public engagement programs on Connecticut wild and farmed seafood industries and seafood products. Further, the study generated new data useful to seafood producers on consumer willingness to pay for locally farmed products. The report is available at seagrant.uconn.edu.
The Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant are inviting people to solve a word puzzle while exploring historic sites in New London and Groton by completing one or more of the four Thames River Quests any time this summer.
Those who complete the quests can enter a prize drawing for heritage park T-shirts and water taxi tickets.
The quests have been offered as part of Connecticut Trails Day events on the first weekend in June in 2018 and 2019. This year, instead of group gatherings, Trails Day hosts are promoting activities that can be done at any time.
“The quests offer families a safe and affordable opportunity to enjoy being outdoors on a pursuit that is both fun and educational,” said Marian Galbraith, president of the Thames River Heritage Park Board of Directors.
The Thames River Quests are treasure-hunt style tours of four park sites: Fort Trumbull State Park and the downtown Waterfront Park in New London; and Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park and Thames Street in Groton.
Participants follow clues to solve a word puzzle that leads to a special location where the quest ends. At the ending spot, people are asked to take a photo and email it to:firstname.lastname@example.org be entered into the drawing. Winners will be randomly selected throughout the summer.
Photos of the winners will be posted on the Thames River Heritage Park’s Facebook page. In addition to the Thames River Heritage Park and Connecticut Sea Grant, the Thames River Quest is also sponsored by The Day Publishing Co.
“We enjoy partnering with the Thames River Heritage Park and The Day to highlight the maritime heritage and history of the Thames River region through this interactive quest,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant.
Connecticut shellfish farmers who endured severe sales losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered the chance to earn income by working on a unique project to rehabilitate the state’s natural shellfish beds.
The project, developed by Connecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, will employ shellfish farmers with vessels normally used to harvest oysters to instead raise and relocate oyster shell buried in silt and other materials off the bottom of the beds. The exposed oyster shell would then provide the preferred habitat for oyster larvae. The shellfish farmers would be compensated for a portion of their hours worked.
The project is the second phase of a three-part initiative to support shellfish farmers hurt by sales losses to restaurants and other key customers. At the same time farmers are being assisted, the natural shellfish beds that are the main source of oyster seed for Connecticut’s commercial and recreational beds will be restored to greater productivity. The natural beds span about 7,000 acres offshore in areas mainly from West Haven to Greenwich.
“We are pleased to have been able to secure new funds to support the aquaculture industry, using innovative avenues to provide some short-term cash flow for work that will enhance the productivity of natural beds in the future, with associated economic and ecological benefits,” said Sylvan De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant.
Connecticut Sea Grant and the state Department of Agriculture collaboratively received $74,999 in federal funds from the National Sea Grant Office to fund the project, which is being supplemented with $50,474 worth of in-kind services. During the first phase of the project that began on May 6, shellfish farmers have been working on different areas of the natural beds than are being targeted in the second phase.
A third phase of the project, which would begin pending approval of additional federal funding, would compensate farmers for shellfish that have grown too large for consumer markets. Those shellfish would then be planted on closed portions of state and town shellfish beds across the state to repopulate those areas.
“Over the past four weeks, more than one dozen shellfish companies have actively rehabilitated the state’s public shellfish beds during phase one of this project plan,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “The implementation of phase two within the next week will enable continuation of this critical work in shallower areas and provide producers with compensation through our collaboration with Connecticut Sea Grant.
“These efforts are crucial to ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s shellfish industry through enhanced management of Connecticut’s public seed beds and facilitating availability of oyster seed to the entire industry,” Hurlburt said.
The Department of Agriculture will continue to document the enhancement achieved through the rehabilitation efforts using a combination of vessel monitoring system data, landings reporting and via the deployment of an underwater video camera. The camera footage would document bottom conditions of those areas that have been worked versus baseline conditions in areas of the beds that remain untouched. Staff intend to document long-term recovery of beds by assessing conditions and oyster recruitment levels on project areas in subsequent seasons. The information will be used to develop best management practices for the natural oyster seed beds to achieve maximum production of oyster seed there in the future.
Shellfish companies interested in participating in the program should submit their request via email to David Carey, director of the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture, at:David.Carey@ct.gov.
Connecticut educators are invited to participate in FE3: Facilitating Excellence in Environmental Education, Climate Simulation Workshop and Resources professional development program from July 14 to 16.
This series for secondary, upper elementary, and university education professionals will focus on bringing understanding of climate change action to students through interactive model simulation using the EN-ROADS Simulator from MIT.
The three-day training will provide educators with integration of environmental resources into curriculum. Participants will:
Receive a $100 stipend for your participation
Run climate action policy simulations for application with students.
Work with state scientists to understand localclimate actions
Introduction to participation in the Climate Youth Summit for 2021
Support NGSS applications to weather, climate and system understanding for data use, argumentation and presentation aspects.
Obtain a library of resources to support your curriculum, including new climate materials & lessons
This series is open to all educators in the state of Connecticut. Registration is required and can be completed electronically using this link. For more information or to answer any questions please contact any of these state coordinators:
SUPPORTING CONNECTICUT’S SHELLFISH INDUSTRY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC Phased Response to Rehabilitate Natural Beds
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is collaborating with state and federal partners on the development of a phased response to support shellfish farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovative program will enable shellfish farmers to contribute to the rehabilitation of the state’s natural shellfish beds, and to receive compensation for their work, which will occur in two distinct phases. This work highlights the importance of the partnership between the Department and Connecticut Sea Grant to provide assistance to the industry during a critical time.
“Ongoing close relationships and coordination between the Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Sea Grant, and industry members allowed for a quick assessment of needs and pooling of capacity and resources for what in my opinion represents a response that is both quick and thoughtful, for the short and medium term”, said Sylvain De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant. “From discussions with colleagues in the region, Connecticut is ahead of neighboring states in responding to the needs of the shellfish aquaculture sector”, he added.
Six areas of focus have been identified by the department, totaling approximately 7,000 acres. The areas are located from West Haven to Greenwich in order maximize participation by shellfish companies. Specifically, the natural bed areas are Flatneck Point Greenwich, Fish Island Natural Bed Darien/Norwalk, Fairfield Natural Bed, Bridgeport/Stratford Natural Bed, Offshore Housatonic River and West Haven Shoal Natural Bed. All of these beds are in need of rehabilitation in order to return them to productive seed oyster producing assets.
“As Commissioner, I have granted access to Connecticut’s public shellfish beds for the specific purpose of the work proposed in this project,” said Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “This addresses the emerging economic impacts resulting from COVID-19, while simultaneously addressing one of the key recommendations identified in the Connecticut Shellfish Initiative Vision Plan to rehabilitate the state’s public shellfish beds.”
Phase One, the rehabilitation of designated portions of natural beds using hydraulic clam dredges, is targeted to begin May 6, 2020 with more than one dozen participants registered and more anticipated.
Phase Two is slated to start June 1, 2020 utilizing federal funding through a project submitted by the Department and Connecticut Sea Grant. This phase will allow shellfish farmers to rehabilitate shallower portions of the natural bed. Upon approval of funding, this phase of the program will allow participating companies to be compensated for a portion of their hours worked.
The Department will document enhancement achieved through the rehabilitation efforts using a combination of the VMS data, landings reporting, and via the deployment of an underwater video camera to document bottom conditions of those areas that have been worked versus baseline conditions in areas of the beds that have not been worked. Staff intend to document long-term recovery of beds by assessing conditions and oyster recruitment levels on project areas in subsequent seasons. The information will be used to develop best management practices for the management of natural oyster seed beds to achieve maximum production of oyster seed in these beds in the future.
By rehabilitating the state’s public shellfish beds, the Department hopes to facilitate the availability of oyster seed to the entire industry, ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s shellfish industry.
Shellfish companies interested in participating in the program should submit their request via email to David.Carey@ct.gov.
Adapt CT, an outreach partnership of Connecticut Sea Grant and the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR), has been awarded a $2,978 grant to fund a student intern to work on a video about climate change in Connecticut. The video is intended primarily for municipal commission members.
The grant is one of 14 awarded to non-profit organizations for environmental projects and programs this month by the Middletown-basedRockfall Foundation. It will fund student salary and mileage costs for the project, set to begin in May and continue for one year.
Part of a new resilience training series created in partnership withPREP-RI, the video will provide current climate change information to help municipal board and commission members as they make decisions at the local level. Both coastal and inland towns as well as areas in and around the Connecticut River will be highlighted in the video to show climate change impacts on local natural resources and infrastructure, according to the Rockfall Foundation.
Connecticut Sea Grant is encouraging teachers and parents to check out the many online educational resources available that can be used for virtual and at-home lessons about Long Island Sound and the larger marine environment.
These can be found on theeducational publications section of the CT Sea Grant website. In addition to online resources, a limited number of print copies ofLiving Treasures: The Plants and Animals of Long Island Sound, and the Spanish language version,Tesoros Vivientes, that can be mailed to homes free of charge during the viral outbreak on a first-come, first-served basis during the pandemic. A limited number of print copies of CT Sea Grant’s biannual magazine,Wrack Lines, can also be mailed free of charge. Please send requests to:Judy.email@example.com.
Sales revenue for Connecticut aquaculture producers fell an average of 93 percent in February and March compared to the same period in 2019, and 70 percent of the workforce employed in shellfish, seaweed and finfish farming operations have been laid off due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These are some of the findings of a preliminary summary of a survey of Connecticut’s aquaculture producers. It was conducted by Connecticut Sea Grant, UConn Extension and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to assess impacts of the pandemic on the industry and inform assistance plans. Sea Grant, the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are using the list of specific actions recommended by the respondents to design the most effective means of providing short- and long-term assistance, including grants and loans.
Beachcombing along the Connecticut coast can be a fun and healthy educational activity for families eager to get out outdoors while the COVID-19 virus keeps children home from school.
Among the many publications available from its website, Connecticut Sea Grant is calling attention to Living Treasures: The Plants and Animals of Long Island Sound, and a series of three pamphlets about seaweeds, shells and beach plants that families can use for easy beach activities. Families are urged to send photos from their outings that will be posted on the Connecticut Sea Grant website.