By now you’ve likely heard that the NH Shellfish Program, run by the DES ensuring water quality and safe shellfish harvesting, is slated to be eliminated in NH. This would mean not only an end to our emerging oyster farms in the Great Bay (which contribute positively to water quality there), but also our own ability to go clamming in NH waters.
Below is the letter I just sent to my NH Senator, copied heavily from a letter Jocelyn and Will Carey of Little Bay Oyster Co. sent along. Please do copy/adapt and send!
Dear Ms. Stiles,
I am writing to express grave concern over the proposal to eliminate the Shellfish Sanitation Program run by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services under the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ proposed 2011-2012 budget. I urge you to restore funding for the Shellfish Sanitation Program in the senate budget proposal.
The loss of shellfish farms from New Hampshire waters would be a loss for the state. Shellfish aquaculture is good for New Hampshire and is an area worth our support.
Oyster Farming is a Green Industry
• Water Filtration: Oysters filter pollutants (suspended solids) from the waters of the Great Bay Estuary, an area whose water quality is now the subject of mandates from the EPA. Each oyster filters 20-50 gallons of water per day. Little Bay Oyster Co., with 1 million oysters filters 20-50 million gallons of water per day. This improves water clarity and promotes recovery eel-grass beds, a critical habitat for juveniles of many commercially and recreationally important fish species.
• Water Monitoring: The existence of the water monitoring program ensures that we keep a close eye on the quality of water in the Great Bay Estuary as well as clam and mussel harvesting sites. Monitoring runoff in the GBE alerts the state to any waste water treatment problems that need to be addressed.
• Job Creation: Shellfish aquaculture is a growing industry and has the potential to create jobs for New Hampshire residents.
• Recreational Harvesters: Approximately 1,500 recreational harvesters paid permit fees to Fish and Game ($40,000-$50,000per year) and additionally spend monies (gas, food, equipment etc.) that generate state and local revenue while permitting our residents to feed themselves.
• Permit Costs: Commercial shellfish operations in New Hampshire are subject to a number of fees. Permit fees, as well as the required $0.015 paid to Fish and Game per oyster sold by permit holders, generate revenue.
• Presence of a Local Product: New Hampshire prides itself on “fresh and local”. Without water monitoring, New Hampshire residents will be forced to buy shellfish from out of state.
Ensuring water quality and keeping our shellfish businesses open is inherent to maintaining our core values as proud residents of New Hampshire.
I would appreciate updates on the status of this program and funding.