Trying Times For Connecticut's Shellfish Industry

Majority of samples taken showed oysters smaller than the legal size.

U.S. Army photo/Pamela Spaugy
Interview with Steven Reviczky
Download Audio
Audio Playlist
Interview with Steven Reviczky

It's been a rough summer for Connecticut's shellfish industry.

A recent Connecticut law states that Connecticut oysters must be at least three inches long when harvested. The state's shellfish industry supported the bill, despite neighboring states allowing smaller sized oysters to be harvested in their waters.

Now a recent inspection by the State Department of Agriculture revealed that 20 of 24 randomly chosen samples by 11 harvesters had oysters smaller than three inches. Steven Reviczky is the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture.

"Quite frankly, the Department of Agriculture had proposed lowering the size limit but the industry was very, very forceful in keeping the law at three inches," said Reviczky. "That's why it's so surprising to us that the very same people who are opposed to the change were found to be in violation of the three-inch oyster rule."

Adding to shellfish harvesters woes this summer is an outbreak of vibrio parahaemolyticus, a naturally occurring bacterial that thrives in warm water. Vibrio doesn't harm shellfish, but can make consumers of vibrio infested oysters and clams quite sick, and in some people may even be fatal.

The Department of Agriculture has closed some 6,000 acres of shellfish beds in waters off Norwalk and Westport until further notice, and as an extra precaution has issued a voluntary recall of oysters and clams caught in Wesport and Norwalk.