Monday, May 01, 2006

Over the Weekend: More Shellfish, Fewer Shad, $$$ for the Sound

Everything we have is living … Long Island Sound’s oysters might be starting to flourish again after years of fighting two diseases, one called dermo, the other called MSX. In recent years oystermen have hauled in only a small fraction of the 800,000-plus bushel harvest of 15 years ago, as you can see if you click here and then click on the shellfish link and then look at slide two.

But there are some good signs. Branford, for example, is opening 1,200 acres of new shellfish beds for leasing. And in Norwalk, there’s a fight over a state decision to grant a homeowner a permit for a new dock in an area that seems to be a good one for oysters. Here’s the link, from the Connecticut Fishing blog (which found the story a week ago in the Stamford Advocate):

Shellfishermen watched the state's oyster bushels drop from a high of 894,000 in 1992 to a low of 24,000 bushels in 2004.

Oyster beds have just begun to recover from the epidemic and are showing signs of a robust year, said Norm Bloom Jr., who owns Norm Bloom & Son shellfish company.

"The oysters are doing good. Everything we have is living, so the more areas and beds we can protect, the better it will be," Bloom said.

If that’s good news for the long term, the short-term bad news is that rain still washes enough bacteria and other bad stuff into the Sound to force the state to temporarily ban shellfishing at times. New York State just reopened beds in Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor, Northport, Huntington, Lloyd Harbor, Stony Brook and elsewhere after last weekend’s rains.

Where are the shad? … It’s shad season. Bob Sampson Jr., writing in the Norwich Bulletin, takes a shot at explaining why the spawning runs of shad and other anadromous fish are so small.

Money for the Sound … The Sound Stewardship Act isn’t dead yet, apparently. If it passes in Washington, it would bring federal money to the area for land preservation and other projects to benefit the Sound. David Funkhouser reports in the Hartford Courant.


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