Despite rainy weather, about 100 people turned out for the Fairfield Shellfish Commission’s Annual Clam Clinic on May 19. Connecticut Sea Grant staff participated in the event and provided educational materials. The event drew both experienced and first-timers clammers, who could learn the techniques and borrow equipment from shellfish commission volunteers.
The Spring-Summer 2018 issue of Wrack Lines focuses on local seafood, from newly abundant species to old favorites. Read how restaurants and markets are offering local seafood, availability of fish, shellfish and kelp, the experiences of a first-time clammer and some great recipes by Connecticut chefs.
Articles in this issue:
- From the editor
- Table of contents
- Creative chefs, retailers and savvy customers seeking Connecticut seafood
- Dealers’ challenge: matching supply, demand for old favorites, newly plentiful fish
- Too few residents taking advantage of local seafood
- Long Island Sound cuisine extends beyond fish and shellfish to a trendy vegetable
- A first-time clammer learns the rewards of digging his own go beyond a delicious meal
- Recipes of the sea
- Writer bios and photo contest announcement
In addition to the 24-page print edition, supplemental online content includes:
- 15 more Recipes of the sea
- First-ever ‘market blitz’ tallies availability of local seafood
- Top 12 CT commercial fish landings
- Fish consumption advisory from state Department of Public Health
The Thames River Quest, a free, three-part, treasure hunt-style educational hike, has been created by Connecticut Sea Grant and the Thames River Heritage Park as a new, unique offering for Connecticut Trails Day on June 2.
Registration for the hike is now open at: http://www.thamesriverheritagepark.org/quest.
“This Quest is a shining example of our local communities and organizations working together and taking advantage of the creative talent and resources we have right here to provide a memorable and inclusive park experience,” said Amy Perry, executive director of the Thames River Heritage Park.
The self-guided hikes will take participants to Fort Trumbull State Park and the downtown Waterfront Park in New London, as well as to Fort Griswold State Park in Groton, linked with rides on the park’s water taxi that will be offered for free to Quest participants from 10 a.m. to noon that day.
At each of the sites, participants will follow a series of clues provided in a downloadable PDF that can be printed at home or completed on a mobile device. The PDF will be available on the Thames River Heritage Park website on June 1.
In the course of answering the clues, hikers will learn about the history and ecology of the river while solving a word puzzle that leads to a treasure box. Participants can choose to do one, two or all three Thames River Quest hikes to be eligible for a special prize drawing. A rain date of June 3 is planned.
“Connecticut Sea Grant is very excited to be working with the Thames River Heritage Park to provide a fun, healthy activity that we hope will enhance appreciation of the richness of the coastal and historic resources of the Thames River,” said Judy Benson, communications coordinator for Sea Grant.
Connecticut Trails Day, an annual event sponsored by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, consists of more than 240 hikes, paddles, educational walks and other outdoor activities organized by land trusts, individual volunteers, conservation organizations and other groups. Part of the National Trails Day celebration each year on the first weekend in June, the Connecticut event is the largest in the country, according to the Forest & Park Association.
For more information and to register for one or all of the Thames River Quest hikes, visit: http://www.thamesriverheritagepark.org/quest.
Registration information is also available on the Connecticut Trails Day website: https://www.ctwoodlands.org/ct-trails-weekend
Connecticut Sea Grant contact: Judy Benson: firstname.lastname@example.org; (860) 405-9141
Thames River Heritage Park contact: Amy Perry: email@example.com; (860) 912-0950
By Judy Benson
Groton – Chris Fowler knows the perils of his occupation as a commercial fisherman, consistently ranked one of nation’s the most dangerous jobs.
So a year after he began catching skate, whiting, squid, flounder and fluke from a vessel docked in New London, he took a day off from fishing to equip himself with the skills he needs to survive an accident at sea.
“This is my first training since I started as a fisherman,” said Fowler, his face wet after a drill that involved getting into an bright orange immersion suit, jumping into 50-degree water off the docks at UConn’s Avery Point campus and climbing onto a four-man life raft.
Fowler was one of 36 commercial fishermen and state agency personnel who took part in a daylong safety and survival training course on May 10 sponsored by Connecticut Sea Grant, Fishing Partnership Support Services, the U.S. Coast Guard and UConn-Avery Point. The training began with classroom lessons on first aid, use of life jackets and opioid awareness. Then the fishermen and agency staff headed to the waterfront for training in firefighting, making emergency vessel repairs, using immersion suits and life rafts and use of flares to signal for help.
The Fishing Partnership, based in Burlington, Mass., provided the Coast Guard-accepted marine safety instructors for the training, several of whom are former commercial fishermen or served in the Coast Guard. On its website, the Fishing Partnership notes that “fishermen are 37 times more likely to die on the job than policemen. And on top of that, New England’s waters are the most dangerous in the country.”
“Fishing is the most dangerous occupation, so our focus is to give hands-on training so they know what equipment to use and how to use it,” said Ed Dennehy, director of safety training for the Fishing Partnership.
Commercial fishermen aren’t required to take safety and survival training courses, he said.
“The only requirement is that they run man overboard, fire, flooding and abandon-ship drills once a month while they’re fishing,” he said.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, however, recommends fishermen take formal training classes like this one at least every five years. Connecticut Sea Grant has been sponsoring them with various partners about every two years since 2000, and teamed up with the Fishing Partnership in 2016, said Nancy Balcom, associate director of Sea Grant and lead organizer of the training.
“There’s always turnover in the industry, and they need refresher courses,” Balcom said. “This is one of the services we can help facilitate for our fishermen to practice their skills so that if they ever have to act quickly they’ll be prepared.”
About 80 percent of those at the May 10 class were first-timers, Dennehy said, and the rest were getting refresher lessons. Just last February, four fishermen survived the sinking of their vessel off Martha’s Vineyard using skills they had learned in a training course, he said. But two years earlier, he added, another group of New Bedford fishermen died because they were unable to get their immersion suits on in time.
“They should do this training every two to three years,” he said, “because there’s always something you didn’t pick up the first time. Sea Grant has been a really great partner with us on this, and this is an outstanding facility.”
On May 11, 13 fishermen and state agency staff returned to Avery Point for a second day of training to become certified as drill conductors – those who run the monthly on-board safety drills. Michael Theiler, a commercial fisherman out of New London, brought his vessel Emma & Maria across the river to Avery Point for the day so his fellow fishermen could practice their drill conductor skills in an authentic setting.
Fisher Harris, one of the fishermen in the safety and survival training, said the experience was both fun and a sobering reminder of how quickly small accidents can turn into disasters without proper preparation. Harris fishes on the vessel Ad Hoc, which docks in Guilford.
“I’m definitely more confident now that if I ever needed to put out a fire, I could do it,” he said, after learning the most effective way of directing a fire extinguisher onto a blaze.
Judy Benson is the communications coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant.
By Judy Benson
Old Lyme – Despite 300 pages of data, maps and listings of the ecological resources and human uses of Long Island Sound, the inventory created as the foundation for the first-ever marine spatial plan for the estuary isn’t yet complete.
At least that’s the view of two of the speakers at the public hearing May 8 on the draft version of the Long Island Sound Blue Plan Resource and Use Inventory. The hearing took place at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Marine Headquarters.
“You’re missing the activity of the sailors out there,” said Jeff Going, a member of the Essex Harbor Management Commission and board member of the Eastern Connecticut Sailing Association. “These are uses of Long Island Sound that are really important.”
Going urged the committee preparing the inventory, headed by Connecticut Sea Grant Director Sylvain De Guise, to add popular locations for sailing races and yacht club events.
Susan Bryson, a resident of the Short Beach neighborhood in Branford, wanted different information added to the inventory. Beach communities such as hers, she said, should be recognized in the inventory, because “these are the land-based areas that launch a lot of the activities” in the Sound.
“It’s a great gap in your data not to include that,” she said.
The hearing was the latest step in the two-year–old process of creating the inventory that will be “the basis for what the Blue Plan will become,” said Mary-beth Hart, senior coastal planner for DEEP, which is overseeing creation of the plan. Comments at the hearing and sent to DEEP by May 23 will be incorporated into the final version of the inventory, now comprised of 12 chapters on the Sound’s ecology and 13 chapters on its human uses.
“We’re looking at the different uses and how compatible they are,” Hart said.
At the hearing, De Guise introduced the inventory. Once finalized, he said, it will shape how the Blue Plan is written to “protect the traditional uses of Long Island Sound, minimize conflicts and maximize compatibility, now and in the future.” It will support efforts to preserve the Sound’s ecosystems and resources, and inform “science-based decision making” on future uses and projects in the waterway, he said.
New York State, which has jurisdiction over the southern half of the Sound, is being consulted as the Connecticut Blue Plan is developed, Hart said. The plan will cover areas of the Sound greater than 10 feet deep and as far inland as “up to the first bridge on the rivers,” she added. Other states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have undertaken similar marine spatial planning efforts.
A draft version of the Blue Plan is scheduled to be completed by March 1, 2019. Once that draft is released, another public hearing will take place before the plan is finalized and submitted to the state Legislature for approval.
“We have a lot of work to do in the next eight to nine months,” said Brian Thompson, director of the Land and Water Resources Division at DEEP.
He said the Blue Plan will not impose new regulations on activities in the Sound, but provide a framework for applying existing ones to new uses.
“It does not mean more regulations,” he said. “What it does provide is more tools in the toolbox to help us make decisions based on existing regulations and statutes.”
The draft inventory can be found at: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lisblueplaninventory
Comments on the inventory should be emailed by May 23 to: DEEP.BluePlanLIS@ct.gov.
For information about the Blue Plan, visit: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lisblueplan
Judy Benson is the communications coordinator at Connecticut Sea Grant.
Opening Date: May 10, 2018; Closing Date: June 20, 2018
Connecticut Sea Grant (CTSG) and New York Sea Grant (NYSG) announce the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) extra-mural research program.
The intent of this program is to fund research that will support the management of Long Island Sound (LIS) and its resources. The LISS is a regional, community-based partnership to protect and restore the Sound. Preliminary proposals are invited for the funding period of March 1, 2019, to Feb. 28, 2021.
Any investigator seeking support for this period (or portion thereof) must submit a preliminary proposal via NYSG’s electronic submission web site www.NYSGproposal.org for receipt by 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday June 20, 2018.
Hard copy, email, and fax submissions will NOT be accepted. Approximately $1,200,000 in funding is expected to be available for one- or two-year projects. The first year of the funding period covered by this Call for Preliminary Proposals begins on March 1, 2019. Allocation of Year 2 funds, if applicable, will be contingent on satisfactory progress in Year 1. Projects chosen for funding require approval of a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) prior to their start. 2019-2021 LISS RFP final
By Judy Benson
After taking a pounding from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy in 2011 and 2012, the shoreline town of Old Lyme joined other nearby communities in systematically assessing vulnerabilities to be better prepared for the next big storm.
“We wanted to identify the possible and probable impacts, the costs, and how to deal with them,” said David Roberge, the town’s fire marshal and director of emergency management.
There was both a public safety and an economic purpose to the effort. Reducing hazards wherever possible could not only prevent future harm to homes, businesses and residents, it could also save them money now. That’s because, with some 12 miles of coast on Long Island Sound and the mouth of the Connecticut River, many residents own properties in areas prone to flooding and storm surge. That means they must carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage, a costly requirement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“If we could reduce their cost by five to 10 percent, that would be a significant benefit to homeowners,” Roberge said.
Through a FEMA program called the Community Rating System, such discounts are available. But completing all the work to qualify required manpower the town didn’t have.
Until UConn students Judy Taylor, Tao Wu, Casey Lambert and Jeff Hoyt were teamed up with the town of Old Lyme through the Climate Corps’ independent study during the spring semester.
“We’re trying to get them enrolled in the FEMA Community Rating System, because for everybody who has to have flood insurance, the premiums can be pretty high,” said Taylor.
Taylor, Wu, Lambert and Hoyt are among students getting real-world experience helping towns meet the challenges of rising sea levels and more frequent and intense storms in a new course titled “Climate Resilience and Adaptation: Municipal Policy and Planning.” After spending the fall semester learning how climate change is impacting local communities, they spent the spring semester applying what they learned in individual towns.
“Working with a municipality has definitely taught me a lot of problem-solving skills,” said Nadia Balkaran, who worked with fellow student Pan Zhang to create a “Climate Proof Your Neighborhood” brochure for the Earle Street-Brackett Park area of Hartford.
Helena Ives, another student in the class, wrote a resilience plan for a coastal marsh preserve in Stonington Borough. Adelaine McCloe, Brook Siegel, Lucas
Cummings and Tony Arreaga, meanwhile, put their efforts into creating a plan to help shoreline communities protect some of their most valuable properties that are also at greatest risk – the neighborhoods of beaches, marinas and waterfront homes. They produced a guide that is applicable in many shoreline towns with those features.
Bruce Hyde of UConn CLEAR, who taught the class with Juliana Barrett of Connecticut Sea Grant, said the lessons of the class have gone beyond the specifics about climate change impacts to broader life skills.
“They’re learning how to be adaptable,” Hyde said. The class, offered through the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, is scheduled again next fall and spring, he said, with some improvements based on the experiences of this first year.
For the Old Lyme project, Taylor, Wu, Lambert and Hoyt compiled a 16-page list of activities the town could take to become eligible for the Community Rating System discounts on flood insurance. These range from those that present the biggest challenges – like relocating buildings subject to repeated flooding – to the “low hanging fruit,” as Roberge put it, of projects that would be easy and inexpensive for the town to accomplish. One of these is creating maps of flood-hazard areas and open space preserves. The five-tiered, color-coded guide also lists projects the town has already completed that could earn points on the Community Rating System.
“This is like a roadmap for us,” Roberge said. “It’s a good foundation, a good starting point for us to take it to the next level.”
Taylor, Wu, Lambert and Hoyt said getting to apply the lessons they learned in the classroom to the specific needs of Old Lyme added a new dimension to their education.
“I had a lot of fun working with my group and I learned so much about climate change and working with the municipalities,” said Hoyt, who will be pursuing a master’s degree in environmental science at the University of New Haven in the fall. “This was an experience I will never forget.”
Taylor, who recently accepted a job as a catastrophe risk analyst with a Boston insurance company, said the class opened new doors for her career. The field experience, she said, was invaluable.
“It really provides meaning to the work you’re doing,” she said.
Judy Benson is the communications coordinator with Connecticut Sea Grant.
By Judy Benson
When the annual hurricane season peaks next fall, residents of four shoreline towns in Connecticut are expected to have access to a new resource to help them better prepare for a coastal storm emergency.
During National Hurricane Preparedness Week May 6 – 12, staff at Connecticut Sea Grant and their partners will be working on finishing the project and getting approvals from the four towns – East Lyme, Madison, Old Lyme and Stonington. The towns plan to make the information available to residents in the coming weeks.
The project is creating town-specific digital storm preparedness guides. These will serve as templates for other coastal as well as inland towns to use to develop their own online instruction manuals to help residents get ready for natural disasters.
“One of the findings of our social science research was that 70 percent of Connecticut coastal residents didn’t know whether they lived in an evacuation zone, and 74 percent didn’t know the evacuation routes,” said Juliana Barrett, project leader and coastal habitat extension educator with Connecticut Sea Grant. “That really hit me.”
The social science research, led by Prof. Jennifer Marlon of Yale University, was funded as part of the NOAA Sea Grant Coastal Storm Awareness Program in response to Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Her research focused on how to improve the public’s understanding of storm warnings and preparedness advice.
A companion project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, revealed that many towns in southeastern Connecticut didn’t have evacuation routes digitized on their municipal websites or even on paper maps. Those findings, Barrett said, were the motivation for the project to create digital storm preparedness guides for the four towns. UConn’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and UConn Extension partnered with the towns and Connecticut Sea Grant on the work.
Each of the digital guides included a story map that recounts through dramatic photos and personal accounts the impacts of the hurricane of 1938 that battered coastal Connecticut. It was a way of engaging the public, Barrett said.
“We wanted to put it in a historical context, to help people understand why they should care,” she said.
Along with the story map, each of the guides contains storm preparedness information customized for each town. This includes locations of 24-hour medical and veterinary services, town shelters, evacuation and respite centers, lists of what evacuees should bring, sources for weather information and emergency alerts, and useful mobile phone apps. NOAA tide data, guidance about food safety after a power loss, instructions for boating safety and critical documents are also covered.
Once completed, the guides will be accessible to the public through a link on the town websites to UConn CLEAR. Barrett said the four towns all had “bits and pieces” of preparedness information available to residents, but the guides bring a comprehensive list together in a format that will be easy to find.
“When there’s a coastal storm approaching, residents will be able to go to the guides immediately,” Barrett said.
As a companion project for the town of Old Lyme, Connecticut Sea Grant also created a one-page document specifically for its tourist population. This was in response to concerns of town officials that visitors may be unfamiliar with sources for local information about evacuation and emergency preparedness and how to sign up for the town’s emergency alert system.
The fact sheet will be laminated and distributed to agencies that rent vacation properties to give to guests. A template of the document was also shared with Connecticut’s emergency management coordinator for the southeast corner of the state, the state Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, and emergency managers in other coastal towns, Barrett said.
Judy Benson is the communications coordinator for Connecticut Sea Grant.
CT Sea Grant will be celebrating its 30th anniversary year starting in August. From Aug. 20 through Sept. 30, we will accept entries for a photo contest of Connecticut waterways, from the rivers and streams that flow into Long Island Sound to the estuary itself. Send us photos picturing how you play, work and enjoy the natural beauty of our shores, or of the wildlife that inhabit these special places. We will accept emailed digital photo submissions or mailed 4” x 6” prints. First-, second- and third-place winners will be published in the Fall/Winter 2018-19 issue of Wrack Lines, with the photographers credited. Runners up will be posted on the CT Sea Grant website. Digital photos should be emailed as low-resolution files (no more than 90 KB), but must be made available in a high-resolution version (at least 1 MB) if the photo is selected for print publication. Photos submitted as prints must also be available as high-resolution digital versions if chosen.
Send entries to: firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail to: Connecticut Sea Grant; Attn. Judy Benson; University of Connecticut; 1080 Shennecossett Road; Groton CT 06340. Entries received before Aug. 20 or after Sept. 30 will not be considered. Professional photographers are not eligible.
Photographers of the winning photos must give Connecticut Sea Grant permission to use their photos in Wrack Lines and other educational and web-based publications, with appropriate credit. Submissions must be original work, created by the entrant. Please include your full name, mailing address, telephone number and email address so we can notify you if your entry is selected. We are unable to return printed photos.
Please check our website, www.seagrant.uconn.edu, for news of other 30th anniversary events, including the Science Serving Connecticut CTSG Research Forum, which will take place on Sept. 7 at the UConn Avery Point campus.
A public hearing on the Long Island Sound Blue Plan Resource and Use Inventory will take place at the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme on May 8, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Conference Room Building 3.
The Blue Plan is a marine spatial planning process for Long Island Sound that was authorized by Connecticut Public Act 15-66. The intent of the Blue Plan is to plan and account for both the existing human uses of the Sound and the habitats and natural resources needed for marine life to thrive in the Sound. Doing so will help ensure that: the existing human uses and the habitats and natural resources and features of the Sound are protected and that any new and existing uses of the Sound will be compatible with each other and with the Sound’s habitats and natural resources.
The Long Island Sound Resource and Use Inventory has been under development for more than two years and contains 12 ecological and 13 human use chapters in its 294 pages. Connecticut Sea Grant has played a major role in the development of the document. As specified in the the statute, the inventory has been overseen by a Long Island Sound Inventory and Science Subcommittee convened by the University of Connecticut. The document provides information on the current state of the Sound’s natural resources and human uses, all based on existing data available to the Subcommittee, and is the first step in drafting the Blue Plan for Long Island Sound. Ultimately, the inventory will be used as the basis for developing Blue Plan policies to minimize future conflicts with these resources and uses.
Information about the inventory can be found at: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lisblueplaninventory. Other Blue Plan information is available at: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lisblueplan.
The success of the Blue Plan depends on the involvement of the general public and all stakeholders to make sure the plan reflects the knowledge, perspectives and needs of everyone whose lives are touched by Long Island Sound. Interested parties are invited to review and comment on the Draft Inventory and any other Blue Plan-related topics. Please submit written comments to: Blue Plan Inventory, Bureau of Water Protection and Land Reuse, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, 79 Elm St., Hartford, CT 06106-5127; or by email to: DEEP.BluePlanLIS@ct.gov on or before May 23, 2018.
Questions may be directed to David Blatt at: (860) 424-3610 or to: DEEP.BluePlanLIS@ct.gov.