Shellfish beds closed after storm disrupts waters off shoreline - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Shellfish beds closed after storm disrupts waters off shoreline

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NEW LONDON, CT (WFSB) -

Hurricane Sandy has disturbed many of the oyster, clam and mussel beds along the Connecticut shoreline and until the waters have been tested, the state agriculture department will be keeping them closed.

Jim Markow lost six weeks of work during Hurricane Irene and has already lost two weeks and two boats because of Hurricane Sandy.

"We have employees, we're trying to stay in business," he said. "Tough environment to stay in business after a storm like this. There's a lot of cost in trying to put things back together again."

The Connecticut Agriculture Department closed the beds right after Hurricane Sandy and is expected to test the waters for contaminants on Monday.

If the results come back clean, that means Markow could continue harvesting shells and local restaurants and retailers can keep their customers happy.

"Since the storm, we've had to buy oysters from Maine and Massachusetts because of it," said restaurateur Dan Meiser. "We're looking forward to getting his oysters back."

Seafood retailer Sean Coleman agreed with Meiser.

"There are plenty of oysters out there, but you have to source them further out which is going to hurt the local economy," he said.

Lawmakers said it's not fair that so many businesses have to be impacted just because a state or lab is shorthanded.

"They have one microbiologist and one other scientist and it's to cover the whole state," said state Sen. Andrew Maynard. "That's something we're going to have to address."

Markow said he hopes the test results will be positive and Mother Nature cooperates.

"At this point we hope it's going to quiet down and get a little reprieve from misery because it's been a tough go for a lot of people," he said.

In western Long Island Sound, shell fishermen can start harvesting the beds in that area starting Saturday.

Scallop season in Niantic has been delayed. It was supposed to open on Nov. 15.

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