Climate adaptation legal issues to get further exploration

Building on the foundations and questions generated by a previous workshop, “Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation II: Climate Adaptation Academy” will present four fact sheets addressing many of the issues raised.  The Dec. 15 workshop is a follow-up to the “Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation” offered in November 2015. In the new workshop, the afternoon session will delve into two major climate adaptation issues with numerous legal ramifications: elevating structures and resilience of roadways.

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center, 167 Great Neck Road, Madison, CT.

Register here:



Coastal Certificate graduates learn Sound gardening practices

Janet McAllister, Kelly Vaughan and Dave Smith are all avid gardeners who wanted to take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

Graduates of the Coastal Certificate program gather at the Connecticut Audubon Center at Milford Point on Oct. 1.
Graduates of the Coastal Certificate program gather at the Connecticut Audubon Center at Milford Point on Oct. 1.

The three were among the latest group to complete the Coastal Certificate program, taught by Judy Preston, Sea Grant’s Long Island Sound outreach coordinator. The recent class received their certificates of completion at a ceremony on Oct. 1 at the Connecticut Audubon Center’s Coastal Center at Milford Point.
“This class has inspired me to do a lot more with native plants,” said McAllister, whose recent move to a shoreline property in Milford made her want to learn how to practice gardening that helps rather than hurts the water quality of the Sound.
For Vaughan, one of 37 master gardeners who completed the Coastal Certificate classes this spring, the program gave her the opportunity to work in several different outreach projects as part of the training. Along with 16 hours of classes, participants are required to complete 10 hours of outreach activities, which included shoreline cleanups, replanting of native species at a public garden and a pollinator fair, among others. Going back several weeks later to one of the public gardens she had helped plant, Vaughan recalled, she was gratified to find hundreds of bees there gathering nectar on the flowers.
“No matter how small a contribution you can make, it does make an impact,” said Vaughan, a resident of West Haven.
Smith said concern for protecting the water quality of a pond at his home in Clinton was one of his main motivations for taking the class. He’s now much more aware of issues such as polluted runoff and the importance of keeping buffers of native plants around waterways.
“Gardening is about much more than flowers,” he said.
Now in its fifth year, the class promotes coastal landscapes designed to be sustainable that also protect water quality in the estuary and create healthy habitats for wildlife.
“Gardening is not just about pretty plants anymore,” Preston told the class during the final session. “It’s a tangible way to address environmental degradation and climate change in our own backyards.”
Vaughan said she appreciated that the classes covered the history and biology of the Sound.
“There were a variety of interesting speakers,” she said. “We learned a lot about the Sound as well as way to protect it.”
For information on upcoming Coastal Certificate classes, contact Preston at:

New group of students trained in seafood safety

Before a bowl of clam chowder or a freshly grilled swordfish steak ends up on a restaurant diner’s plate, specially trained seafood handlers will have been working to eliminate any risk of contamination or hazards that could cause illness.
Many of those handlers will have learned their skills in training offered by Connecticut Sea Grant, including the most recent one from Sept. 12-14.
The three days of training took place at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut. There, 22 seafood processors, wholesalers and dealers in products ranging from sushi to oysters to soups learned how to identify and control hazards associated with fish and shellfish to keep the public safe and their businesses running smoothly. Completion of the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) classes are required by a 1997 federal Food & Drug Administration regulation.

Lori Pivarnik, coordinator of food safety outreach in the Food Safety Education Program at the University of Rhode Island, discusses safe seafood handling practices with students at a HACCP class on Sept. 13.

“Any seafood company has to have at least one HACCP-trained person,” said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant and co-teacher of the class with Lori Pivarnik, coordinator of food safety outreach and the food safety education program at the University of Rhode Island. While students in the recent class came from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York, previous classes have drawn from outside the Northeast.
After completing the nationally standardized course developed by the Seafood HACCP Alliance of seafood scientists, regulators and industry members, students receive a certificate of training completion from the Association of Food and Drug Officials. They then go back to their workplaces to write site-specific plans for potential seafood safety hazards for the products they handle, applying HACCP principles, Balcom said. She said HACCP plans are then implemented by each company to manage and minimize the risk of seafood-borne illnesses.
Training 75 to 100 seafood processors and regulators each year, Balcom said she and Pivarnik have trained more than 2,000 individuals in HACCP principles over the past 20 years. Sessions are offered alternately between Avery Point and URI in Narragansett. No exam is given to students at the end of the class, but they build experience developing plans for different seafood products as a group exercise to help them immediately apply what they learn once they return to their own businesses. That is in everyone’s best interest.
“The test comes when the FDA comes in and inspects them,” Balcom said.

For information about future HACCP classes, contact Balcom at:

Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant, talks to students in a HACCP class on Sept. 13.

Nancy Balcom, associate director of Connecticut Sea Grant, talks to students in a HACCP class on Sept. 13.

4 sites in running for nomination to national estuarine reserve

One of three sites in Long Island Sound or a fourth on the lower Connecticut River will soon be chosen for nomination as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR).

Kevin O'Brien shows maps of proposed NERR areas at meeting on Aug. 17, 2017, at UConn Avery Point.
Kevin O'Brien, environmental analyst at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, shows maps of proposed NERR sites in Long Island Sound during a meeting Aug. 17, 2017, at UConn Avery Point. (photo by Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant)

The latest step in a process that began earlier this year took place on Aug. 17, when about 20 experts from academia, state agencies and environmental groups came together at the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus. The project is being led by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in coordination with UConn and Connecticut Sea Grant.

“We want to submit a final nomination package to NOAA by the end of December or early January,” Kevin O’Brien, DEEP environmental analyst who led the meeting, told the group.

The Connecticut site chosen would join a national system of 29 reserves designated for research, monitoring, education and increased protection. Run as a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the states, NERR sites exist in all coastal states except Connecticut and Louisiana.  About 1.3 million acres are currently part of NERR sites in 20 coastal and two Great Lakes states.

During the meeting, the group reviewed the detailed scoring criteria and initial scores given on the assets the four sites: one each in the western, central and eastern Sound, and the Connecticut River from Haddam Neck to the mouth.

Over the next month, the group will complete scoring of the sites, assessing their environmental, research, stewardship, educational and management values, and write a draft nomination report by early fall for the chosen site.

A public informational meeting on the selected site and the importance of the NERR program to Connecticut will be scheduled for late October to early November. That will be followed by a public comment meeting in late November and an opportunity for the public to submit written comments.

The four sites under consideration are:

  • Western Long Island Sound Region from Darien to Milford, encompassing state and federal properties including the Norwalk Islands, Great Meadows, the Milford Point Unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, plus Sherwood Island State Park and Wheeler Wildlife Area.
  • Central Long Island Sound Region from Madison to Westbrook, including Hammonasset Beach State Park/Natural Area Preserve, the Hammock River Wildlife Management Area and Duck Island Wildlife Area.
  • Eastern Long Island Sound Region from Waterford to Stonington, including Bluff Point State Park/Natural Area Preserve/Coastal Reserve, Haley Farm State Park and the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area.
  • Connecticut River Region from Old Saybrook and Old Lyme to Haddam Neck, encompassing the upper freshwater component including Haddam Neck Wildlife Area and Machimoodus State Park; and the lower brackish component including the Ferry Point Wildlife Area, Great Island Wildlife Area, Lord Cove Wildlife Area, Nott Island Wildlife Area and Ragged Rock Creek Wildlife Area.

For information, visit:, or the most recent issue of Sound Outlook:; or contact Kevin O’Brien at:

Group discusses the next steps in nominating a NERR site in Long Island Sound during a meeting on Aug. 17, 2017, at UConn Avery Point.

Group discusses the next steps in nominating a NERR site in Long Island Sound during a meeting on Aug. 17, 2017, at UConn Avery Point. (photo by Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant)

CTSG Attends Sea Grant Week 2016

Many of our Connecticut Sea Grant staff attended Sea Grant Week in Newport RI on October 10-17. We were celebrating Sea Grant’s 50th Anniversary of serving the nation with science-based solutions in the coastal and Great Lakes states. Presentations and networking allowed us to share ideas and successes with our colleagues from all over the USA, Guam, and guests from Japan and Korea. A big part of the meeting was planning a vision forward for our next 50 years, and how to prioritize needs and identify partners.

The group decided to continue the next 4 years with these priorities:

  • Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
  • Resilient Communities & Economies
  • Sustainable Fisheries & Aquaculture
  • Environmental Literacy & Workforce Development

Sea Grant Week 2016

Our program was pleased to receive, with New Hampshire and Maine Sea Grant, the Sea Grant Research to Application Award for a group effort. The award was selected for our efforts in research and outreach integration in Sea Vegetable aquaculture.

Sea Grant SGA President Sylvain DeGuise (our program director) presented the Sea Grant Association Distinguished Service Award to Admiral Richard (Dick) West, who also serves on our CTSG Senior Advisory Board. The award recognizes individuals who have provided truly superior service benefiting the entire Sea Grant College Program Network. The nomination read as follows: “Admiral West has served tirelessly on the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, enthusiastically accepting the most difficult assignments while remaining respectful, effective and collegial. Dick has consistently engaged the Administration (including NOAA leadership and OMB) and members of Congress to speak highly about Sea Grant.”

Also honored was Richard Blumenthal, US Senator from Connecticut, who received the Sea Grant Association Award. The Sea Grant Association Award recognizes an individual for direct demonstrable contributions through research, education/training, advisory, or public service activities which embody Sea Grant concepts, or have been effective users of Sea Grant products. The nomination read as follows: “Senator Blumenthal’s commitment to coastal and ocean issues has remained consistent and steadfast. He recently played a significant role in the designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic. ”

Among the many distinguished guest speakers addressing the challenges of the future were Dr. Jonathan Pennock, Director of the National Sea Grant Office, Dr. Bob Ballard, URI, and U.S.Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

One highlight was a field trip to the Deepwater Wind Farm, 3 miles offshore of Block Island, expected to soon power 17,000 homes as a pilot project.

Read all about it here.

Go to the official Sea Grant Week 2016 website