Oystermen overcome pollution, pandemic to thrive in LI Sound

Connecticut

Darwin Ceveda opens the bottom of a basket to unload hundreds of oysters into the hold of a shellfishing boat owned by Copps Island Oysters, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021, off Norwalk, Conn. The state of Connecticut, maintains more than 17,500 acres of natural shellfish beds. Oystermen get permits to work those public beds, harvesting seed oysters to transplant to their own grounds. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont calls Connecticut’s shoreline the Napa Valley of Oysters. A quarter-century after a parasite nearly killed off the state’s oyster industry, it is thriving again.

Government and private efforts to clean up Long Island Sound, develop disease-resistant shellfish and find new markets, especially during the coronavirus pandemic have helped aquaculture become a $30 million a year business in Connecticut, with oyster’s accounting for about $15.9 million of that.

The state has helped the oystermen survive the pandemic, providing tax breaks and hiring them to help rehabilitate Connecticut’s 17,500 acres of natural beds.

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