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Oyster breeding center opens in Milford

Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new Northeast Oyster Breeding Center Monday in Milford.

The oyster hatchery will operate out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Milford Laboratory. It will allow scientists to breed oysters that are resilient both to disease and climate stressors.

Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU

Along with the USAD, the group has worked with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Kate Naughten is the director of communications at NOAA Fisheries. Naughten said that in the changing climate, their work is more important than ever.

"We're responsible for productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, recovery, and conversation of protected resources and healthy ecosystems," Naughten said.

Janet Coit is the assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. She said the collaboration between the agencies will make advancements in aquaculture science. She said the research done at the Milford lab will help achieve advancements that would have traditionally taken years to complete.

Jeniece Roman
/
WSHU

“This selective breeding of oysters and the research done here will be a boom to the industry, to our resilience when we confront climate change and to shellfish farming in the entire Northeast region from New York to New Hampshire,” Coit said.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the federal partnership will advance aquaculture science and benefit shellfish farmers across the Northeast.

“It’s an investment in shellfish farming which is so vital to Connecticut, tens of millions of dollars in sales, hundreds of employees. But, aside the economics, it's a matter of culture and heritage,” Blumenthal said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Connecticut's shellfish industry generates $30 million in sales each year. More than 70,000 acres of shellfish farms are cultivated in state waters.

Jeniece Roman is a reporter with WSHU, who is interested in writing about Indigenous communities in southern New England and Long Island, New York.