In early 2009 the Commission, along with its partners, undertook the tasks of building gear, mainly new "cages" to hold the adult scallops over the study season. Students from Pine Point School and Stonington High School, along with commission members and other community volunteers, constructed sufficient numbers of cages to hold the anticipated 7,500 adult scallops.

By late April 2009 the gear was set for deployment and arrangements had been made to obtain adult scallops from Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, the same source for adult scallops used during the 2008 project. As the date of deployment approached however, a Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) event occurred in Massachusetts waters. The Connecticut Bureau of Aquaculture rightly raised the concern that the scallops coming from Oak Bluffs might contain PSP organisms, or their cysts, and could pose a risk to Connecticut shellfish resources and those who obtain their economic livelihoods from them.

PSP contaminated shellfish are a major human health risk. Shellfish that are infected with PSP organisms, if eaten raw as are clams and oysters, can make the person eating them sick. The severity of the symptoms a person experiences varies widely, but ranges from a mildly upset stomach to diarrhea to convulsions and even death in extreme cases. The PSP organisms could readily have moved from the deployed scallops into local waters where they could infect hard clams and oysters. If the PSP organisms survived and underwent a "bloom," local waters could be closed to all commercial and recreational shellfishing for long periods of time.

Because of the risk, the commission was not comfortable importing the scallops and it made decision to abandon the project for the 2009 field season. It was a very painful decision to make given the level of effort and hard work put into the project by a large number of people over the preceding months.

At present PSP is a major nuisance in the waters of Maine, New Hampshire and portions of Massachusetts. Connecticut and Rhode Island, for reasons that are not scientifically clear, only rarely see PSP problems. Given the existence of a thriving shellfish industry in Long Island Sound and associated waters, the commission could not justify the risk of bringing in potentially infected scallops unless it could be ensured they were "PSP-free" by the time they would enter local waters, and this could not be accomplished given the time frames and circumstances in place during early 2009.

The bottom line is that for the 2009 season, the Commission and its partners did not undertake the planned iteration of the Bay Scallop Enhancement Project. That does not however, mean that the project is being eliminated. The Commission anticipates, for 2010, to implement the project as developed for the 2009 season provided that PSP-free scallops can be procured.

Check this page again in early 2010 for an update on the Bay Scallop Enhancement Project.