DOAG: CONNECTICUT GROWN SHELLFISH



June 26, 2019

CONNECTICUT GROWN SHELLFISH

Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation

 

Connecticut residents are well aware of our farms, but generally don’t think about our thriving industry that farms under the water.

Our state has 50,000 acres of leased shellfish beds across Long Island Sound, which produces millions of fresh oysters, clams, and other shellfish for locals and visitors to enjoy, especially at your picnics and barbecues to celebrate the 4th of July.

According to the Connecticut State Register and Manual, the Eastern oyster was designated as the State Shellfish by the General Assembly in 1989. The oyster, which is a bivalve mollusk, thrives naturally in Connecticut's tidal rivers and coastal embayments and is cultivated by the oyster industry in the waters of the Long Island Sound.

Oysters were consumed in great quantities by Connecticut's native American inhabitants, and early European settlers found oysters to be a staple and reliable food source. The first colonial laws regulating the taking of oysters in Connecticut appeared in the early 1700's.

Oyster farming developed into a major industry in the State by the late 19th century. During the 1890's, Connecticut held the distinction of having the largest fleet of oyster steamers in the world.

Today, Connecticut's oyster industry continues to thrive. Thousands of bushels of these delicious Connecticut Grown mollusks are marketed throughout the country annually. Of all the shellfish species associated with the Connecticut shoreline, the oyster is by far the best known for its colorful history, continued economic importance and esteemed reputation for quality.

Connecticut restaurants are a great place to enjoy fresh Connecticut shellfish prepared for you. Go to http://www.ctvisit.com/dine/seafood to for a list of Connecticut seafood restaurants that are guaranteed to please—from the freshest catch of the day to clam chowder and oysters on the half shell.

Connecticut is home to several festivals that celebrate oysters including the Milford Oyster Festival and the Norwalk Oyster Festival.

The 45th Annual Milford Oyster Festival will be held in Downtown Milford on August 17, 2019. About 30,000 oysters, all harvested in Milford waters, are expected to be sold during the festival. For more information about the Milford Oyster Festival go to https://milfordoysterfestival.com.

The Norwalk Oyster Festival will held September 6 – 8, 2019 at Veterans Memorial Park in Norwalk. A host of national, local and regional musical acts will perform continuously throughout the weekend on several stages throughout the festival area. The festival offers a range of activities and entertainment that the whole family will enjoy. For more information go to http://www.ctvisit.com/events/norwalk-oyster-festival. 

Connecticut shellfish are also available to buy and enjoy at home through grocery stores and fish markets. 

A lot of Connecticut farmers’ markets now offer seafood, including shellfish. Go to https://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3260&q=398996 for a listing of Connecticut farmers’ markets and find a market near you that offers shellfish. For more information about how to shuck an oyster go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jxz2O2qWnoY.

There is an old myth that says you should only eat oysters during months that include the letter “R”. This myth may have originated as a practice to avoid health hazards associated with shipping raw seafood in an age before refrigeration.

Modern refrigeration and Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg)’s Bureau of Aquaculture inspection and regulatory programs have made shellfish safely available to consumers year-round, including the summer months.

DoAg’s Bureau of Aquaculture consistently maintains monitoring programs as an early warning system.

DoAg collaborates with partner agencies, like the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to respond to any potential events before they occur.

Recreational shellfishing (or clamming or clam digging) is a fun sport and great way to get out into nature and enjoy the state's waterfront environments. Recreational shellfishing in Connecticut is limited to approved areas.

For a list of Connecticut’s recreational shellfishing areas go to https://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3768&q=478084.

For more information about recreational shellfishing go to https://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3768&q=478058.