May 9, 2018


Bureau of Aquaculture

On October 20, 2017, the Department of Agriculture (DoAg)’s, Bureau of Aquaculture implemented a voluntary vessel monitoring system (VMS) project in conjunction with the dredging of the federal channel in the Housatonic River in Stratford. This area is the largest and most productive designated public natural seed oyster bed in Connecticut.

Shellfish companies were allowed to participate in the oyster seed transplant program by a voluntary agreement requiring the installation of DoAg’s VMS issued devices.  Seventy-two vessels are participating and preliminary reports estimate that approximately 300,000 bushels of oysters have been removed from the Housatonic River under two transplant programs with a value of $15 million.

DoAg, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and many industry members acknowledge the VMS project has provided access to oysters previously not accessible under the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance (NSSP-MO) pursuant to NSSP MO Chapter IV @.03(D.)(1.)(b.)(ii.).

In accordance with the NSSP MO Chapter V.@.04 A., the authority must develop and maintain an effective program to control the harvest, transport, replanting, and security of shellstock until the end of the complete relay activity to prevent shellstock from being illegally diverted to direct marketing. 

The VMS units continue to enable DoAg and DEEP to ensure the transplanted oysters remain where planted for a minimum of six months and vessels do not remove oysters prematurely among those 72 vessels participating. The voluntary program has and continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of the electronic VMS equipment to remotely monitor oysters remain where transplanted for the required depuration period.

Our Newest Additions

Over the past few months, the DoAg, Bureau of Aquaculture has successfully filled three vacant positions. New staff members include an environmental analyst, fisheries biologist, and research vessel engineer. These appointments replace staff members who have retired or moved on to different positions.

Rick Seiden has more than twenty years of experience in the Connecticut shellfish industry. He took a five-year hiatus to explore other endeavors but missed being on the water. He joins us as a research vessel engineer, spending plenty of time on the water and fixing and maintaining our fleet. In his very small amount of spare time, Rick enjoys spending time with his pups, Oreo and Ollie.

Emily Van Gulick hails from North Wales, PA, and currently serves as a fish biologist in our laboratory. Emily has a degree from the University of New Hampshire in marine, estuarine and freshwater biology. In college, Emily performed various research projects including examining the reproductive hormones of sea lampreys and field research in New Zealand observing the aquatic ecology of streams, protected and unprotected from agriculture. Prior to her current position, Emily worked seasonally for the Inland Fisheries Division of DEEP. In her spare time, Emily enjoys playing the piano, painting, and spending time with her dog Sparky.

Kristin Russo joins us from Mystic Aquarium, where she served as the acting water quality lab manager. Kristin has a degree in biology/chemistry from Southern Connecticut State University, where she also performed her undergraduate research in environmental studies field, examining sediments from various harbors along the coast of Connecticut for heavy metals. Kristin returns to the agency as an environmental analyst after serving as an environmental intern for DoAg from August 2014- February 2015. When she is not running or reading, Kristin enjoys cooking and crafting.