Due to recently approved spending cuts, New Hampshire’s Shellfish Program is targeted for elimination. The loss of this program would have a significant impact on both commercial and recreational harvesters, stopping all harvesting of clams, oysters and mussels within the state. From Foster’s:
State budget could present slippery slope for local shellfish harvesters
After four years of harvesting oysters in Little Bay, Will Carey may have to close shop due to state funding cuts for water testing.
The 32-year-old shellfisherman is finally at the point where he can pay back some of the $150,000 of debt he has accumulated from starting Little Bay Oyster Co.
“It’s not a huge business in New Hampshire, but the potential could be huge,” he said, adding he has heard some interest from others in the area.
However, the future of Carey’s business, and others, is pending on a $302,000 spending cut in the current $10.2 billion budget the House recently approved. Environmental Services Commissioner Tom Burack said his department is looking at future funding cuts and the shellfish program was targeted.
Burack said his department will be presenting its case to keep its funding on Monday, April 25, at 1 p.m. in Concord. They will be laying out what impacts the state will see if such a program was eliminated.
Aquaculturists wouldn’t be able to harvest their products and any commercial or recreational harvesting will be halted.
“Other states would also risk their products if they were to import from New Hampshire,” Burack said.
The program could close on July 1 when the state budget would be voted in, unless Gov. John Lynch makes a veto.
“We don’t know with certainty what would happen,” he said. “The budget reduction would be effective that day, or shortly after the actions could be taken. But it is possible the budget decision will be clear enough that actions would be taken sooner than that time.”
For growers like Carey, their operations could be stopped with little notice. He has been growing oysters, with some help from his wife, on 1.5 acres of land near Fox Point in Newington. He applied for another 1.5 acres and was hoping to double the size of his farm.
In the last year, he sold about 24,000 oysters and is hoping to sell about 100,000 to wholesalers and local businesses. This year, he was hoping to pay back loans with profits.
Without the program, the waters won’t be tested and commercial and recreational harvesters will have to cease operations. Read more…
For more information about the Shellfish Program at the NH Department of Environmental Services: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/shellfish/index.htm
Contact your New Hampshire state senator to restore the Shellfish Program: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/senatemembers.asp