Connecticut officials are looking to get tough with oyster rustlers.
\”It\’s something that happens frequently,\” state Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky warned lawmakers at a legislative hearing Wednesday.
State Sen. Edward Meyer, who happens to be from the shoreline town of Guilford, sounded even more worried about oyster theft than the commissioner. According to what Meyer is hearing from his shellfishing constituents, the problem \”is quite pervasive.\”
\”The impression in my district is that we\’re not enforcing this [current law against stealing oysters] very well,\” said Meyer, who is also co-chair of the General Assembly\’s Environment Committee. He questioned whether state agriculture and environmental officials need more money and staff to hunt down and prosecute oyster thieves.
\”The stealing of shellfish should not be taken lightly,\” insisted Meyer.
Reviczky was testifying in support of new legislation to make it easier to go after people who steal oysters and clams. He said shellfishermen who pay for state leases on offshore beds and spend long hours seeding and cultivating oysters and clams can suffer \”quite devastating \” financial losses if someone steals the shellfish just as they\’re ready to be harvested.
The commissioner says there are currently three cases of oyster theft now being prosecuted by the state.
One lawmaker with personal shellfishing experience, state Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, said old-time fishermen used to say there was always lots of back-and-forth oyster-napping between rivals along the shore.
\”All oysters look the same,\” Backer pointed out. \”When oysters go missing, everybody blames everybody else.\”
And lest we forget, the Easter Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica) happens to be Connecticut\’s officials \”State Shellfish.\”