Dive into shellfishing at demonstration at Greenwich Point

March 26, 2019

GREENWICH — Greenwich’s shellfish lovers are in for a treat this weekend as they can get in the water and learn more about the thriving population inside local waters.

The town’s Shellfish Commission will hold a shellfishing demonstration at Greenwich Point on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. According to commission chair Roger Bowgen the goal is for people to learn the “hows” and “wheres” for finding oysters, clams and mussels in town.

“We’re going to be able to talk about shellfishing and what shellfish do for Long Island Sound,” Bowgen said. “People don’t always know that a 3-inch oyster will filter more than 50 gallons of water a day. We help expand the oyster beds in Greenwich and that can have a real effect on keeping the water clean in the Sound.”

Things will begin at the Innes Arden Cottage at 2 p.m. and people are being advised to dress warmly and wear rubber boots because they will be getting in the water to do some shellfishing. All ages are welcome to attend the event and the commission will be providing shellfish rakes and buckets.

People do not need to have shellfish licenses or permits to be able to participate in the event.

Bowgen said the Shellfish Commission tries to do at least four events like this per year. But there are a lot of things out of their control considering they are dependent on good weather, which can be difficult since the best time for the shellfish season is between October and May, and the tide schedule, since it makes no sense to do the demonstration at low tide.

But when they are able to successfully have a demonstration, Bowgen said they can be great successes. He said they have crowds ranging from two people to 30 depending on the conditions for any given day and that people can learn a lot from it. Bowgen said they are actively encouraging Greenwich’s youth to come out to the demonstration because getting them interested is a great way to get their parents more involved too.

And the commission is seeing if it can take the season a little later than May to try and encourage more participation.

“We want to open some of the beds on the Sound side this summer at Greenwich Point,” Bowgen said. “We want to see what happens with that. It could be a very interesting change but we’ll see.”

Bowgen said there are 25 to 30 million oysters in Greenwich’s waters and close to 1.2 billion clams. And while the oysters are filtering 50 gallons of water a day, the clams do a significant part too, filtering 18 to 20 gallons a day. Science facts like those will be presented during the demonstration as well as an explanation of all the Shellfish Commission does to protect and expand the shellfish population in town.

There will also be discussions about the differences between recreational and commercial shellfishing in Greenwich and about the ongoing partnership that the commission has with the University of Connecticut to do research in Greenwich’s parts of Long Island Sound that can lead to new information and improvements in aquaculture.

In case of bad weather, such as a heavy rain storm, the event will be canceled. The forecast may not be a bad one, though. The National Weather Forecast, as of Tuesday, had a 30 percent chance of showers for Sunday during the day, but said it would be a mostly sunny day with temperatures getting near 60 degrees.

More information about shellfishing in Greenwich is available on the commission’s website at https://www.greenwichct.gov/696/Shellfish-Commission. The site has a recreational shellfish bed map for the town’s waters as well as clamming tips and the town’s shellfish regulations.

Typically permits are needed for people looking for shellfish in Greenwich. The town’s permits are good for one year at a time from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 and come at a cost of $15 for a regular permit, $10 for a senior and $1 for kids age five to 13. The permits are sold at the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall and must be “prominently displayed” and visible on outer clothing for anyone doing shellfishing in the water so town shellfish wardens can see them.