1623 Whitesville Rd.

Toms River, NJ 08755


Volume 2:04

September 30, 2004


The Mouth of the Bay

What is up with the ECSGA? That is the question I keep hearing. If you have not been listening on the ECSGA e-mail LISTSERVE you have not heard much for months. That is a drawback in having a grower (me) chairing the Communications Committee. It has been a busy summer (which I am sure many of you can relate to) and the summer newsletter is late.

The ECSGA has been active, we just have not had the time to tell you about it.

We continue to represent your interests to groups such as Seafood Watch, the Slow Food movement, and World Wildlife Fund, giving them accurate information to ensure that cultured shellfish are recommended in their food guides.

We continue to get the word out about shellfish farming being sustainable and good for the environment via our flyer and articles and editorials published in various journals.

We have been seeking funding for marketing, consumer education, strategic planning and Best Management Practices.

We have engaged legislators and regulators, pushing for rational regulations and a sensible applied research agenda.

We have been working at raising funds and attracting new members, meeting with industry leaders and showcasing our product to the public in events like this summer’s Block Island Oyster Festival.

We need to do a better job communicating to our members the important services we provide so that our members recognize the value of their membership to their businesses. I know we can do more for our members. That will require more resources, more member support and more volunteer help. We need your help. I hope to see you at one of our meetings or hear from you on the ECSGA discussion List. -Bob Rheault

ECSGA Annual Meeting - 2005 Maryland Watermen’s Show
January 28-29, 2005 - Ocean City, MD

We plan to hold our Annual Meeting on Friday afternoon at 3:00, followed by a reception that night. On Saturday Jan. 29th we will be organizing a half day of shellfish-aquaculture related presentations on oyster and clam production, processing, marketing and current issues and trends tentatively scheduled between 11:00 and 3:00.

World Oyster Eating Champion

NEW ORLEANS, LA on April 19, 2004 Sonya Thomas slid an amazing 32-dozen iced Louisiana oysters down her gullet during the 10-minute contest. The Asian-American, a slip of a woman at only 100 pounds, doubled last year’s record laying claim to the title of World Oyster Eating Champion.

ECSGA to Co-Sponsor International Conference on Shellfish Restoration
November 17-20, 2004 - Charleston, SC

We will hold a fall meeting in South Carolina in an effort to introduce more southern growers to the association. ICSR 2004 will provide an opportunity for government officials, resource managers, and growers to discuss approaches to restoring coastal ecosystems through stock enhancement, habitat remediation and watershed management. The conference will be held at the DoubleTree in Historic Charleston and will consist of presentations, sessions, and

workshops. We will hold an ECSGA meeting on the evening of Thursday Nov. 18th and we are also hoping to schedule a shellfish reception. This will be a good opportunity to meet others in the field, support the association, and see what's going on. Guaranteed you will learn something. Please take this opportunity to grab another grower and make it a point to attend. For more information contact Elaine Knight:

Oyster Festival at the Spring House on Block Island, RI

On July 25th the ECSGA co-sponsored an Oyster Festival at the Spring House on Block Island. The Spring House and Ocean Fresh Seafood each made generous $1000 donations to the ECSGA and we arranged for some 3200 fresh oysters and a gaggle of shuckers to attend the event.

All of the growers seemed to enjoy themselves as we shucked to the Cajun beat of Buckwheat Zydeco while we offered a crowd of well over a thousand folks a wide variety of oysters. Special thanks to everyone who stepped up to the plate to donate oysters: Jeff Gardner (Watch Hills) Jim Anderson (Oak Point Oysters), Tommy Leggett (York River Oyster), Travis Croxton (Rhappahannock River Oysters), K&B Seafood (Saddlerock Oysters), Rob Krause (Ninigret Cups), Skip Bennett (Island Creek Oysters), J.P. Shellfish (Cooks Cove Oysters), Perry Raso (Matunuck Oysters), Jim Markow (Mystic Oysters) and my own Moonstones.

When you next see these folks please say thanks. Three of these growers brought samples of their first crop! And thanks to Ed and Kathy Rhodes who came out to help organize and shuck like real troupers!

I hope we can do more of this sort of event over the next year. –RBR-.

Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)

As a result of the 2002 Farm Bill, shellfish shippers will need to provide written notification to their customers describing the country of origin of their product and whether the shellfish is farm-raised or wild. Requirements for certified shellfish shippers will go into effect on September 30, 2004.

(Note: the USDA does not directly regulate the shellfish industry and has no routine dealings with the NSSP or the ISSC and will count on

state shellfish authorities to enforce these measures.) The Interim Final Rule (IFR) announces that USDA will delay active enforcement of the law for one year.

The law requires all fish and shellfish to be labeled as to country of origin and method of production, unless they are an ingredient in a processed food item. Everyone in the supply chain is required to maintain records of the immediate past source and immediate subsequent recipient of products for one year.

The information may be provided on the product itself, the master-shipping container, or in a document that accompanies the product by means of a lot number or other unique identifier. The required information may be on the tag, the invoice, bill of lading or delivery ticket. The
shipping tag should suffice, but check with your state authority to ensure that they do not have a more strict interpretation. If a certified dealer chooses to place the COOL information on the tag, it may be placed anywhere on the tag in any legible type size. It may be on the bottom or side margin or next to the Harvest Location and the Type of Shellfish.

There are no specific marking requirements and the information may be displayed in any manner that is clear to the consumer and does not cover other required information with the exception that the FDA does not want to see country of origin or method of production claims in the product name or in the ingredients list. For method of production information, "wild," "wild-caught," "farm-raised" and "farmed" are all acceptable. Terms such as "ocean caught," "caught at sea," "line caught," "cultivated," "cultured," or "aquacultured" are NOT acceptable.

The COOL information must be displayed alongside the specific products for sale by the seafood retailer. This is for retail seafood market customers only. COOL does not apply to restaurant food service establishments.

For further information check the USDA COOL website at .

Cultured Shellfish Green Again!

Our efforts to educate the sustainable seafood mavens continue to pay off!

The Chef's Collaborative just published a two-page communiqué on shellfish titled "Shellfish -the positive face of aquaculture" by Carol Trauner. Trauner was a guest on an oyster cruise sponsored by the Ocean State Aquaculture Association where I had the opportunity to educate her on the ecological benefits of shellfish aquaculture. Her piece describes the sustainable virtues of our industry, listing only a few concerns about potential dredging impacts. You can read the document on our web site at:

I was invited (along with ECSGA member Sandy Shumway and a variety of industry experts) to help Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program establish a Northeast regional seafood consumer pocket guide. Cultured shellfish fared well in their West Coast guide and we stand to be highly recommended in their other regional guides. Seafood Watch does a good job, preparing extensive, peer-reviewed scientific background documents before they make their recommendations. RBR

WWF Mollusk Dialogue

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) held a two-day session in Washington, D.C. in August to discuss some of the aspects of an international certification program for mollusks. Ed Rhodes, Chris Davis, Sandy Shumway and Sebastian Belle attended along with shellfish folks from the West Coast, representatives from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Scotland, Italy and Belgium and members of NGO’s.

Jason Clay of WWF has been working on certification programs for shrimp and salmon, and in addition to shellfish, he has plans to add trout, catfish, seaweed and tuna ranching. WWF believes that the environmentally benign nature of shellfish culture makes it a prime candidate for certification as environmentally friendly. Certification could take a number of forms, including buyer or investment screens or an eco-label. Environmental certification could result in some marketing advantages, including the possibility of premium prices.

The discussion in Washington included presentations on oysters, clams, scallops, mussels, and abalone and on genetics, marketing, and standard setting. Some consensus was developed on issues that could be addressed in a certification program, including food safety, ecosystem integrity, genetics, exotics, disease and pest management, waste management and multi-user issues.

Environmental certification may be of interest to ECSGA member companies. The certification process would provide differentiation in the marketplace that could improve access to markets and better prices. On the other hand, because certification standards are envisioned as being regional or on a country-by-country basis, foreign companies may very well have standards for certification that are different from those applied in the U.S.

The WWF will continue to work with shellfish certification, and plans additional workshops in the U.S. and abroad. WWF is bankrolling these initial discussions, but envisions management of the certification program, if it comes to pass, by an independent NGO with a multi-stakeholder board and standards committee.

WWF has some information on the aquaculture dialogues on their web site , and will post the mollusk information there soon. ECSGA will continue to monitor and participate in these discussions. - Ed Rhodes

Excerpts from the ECSGA BOD Meeting

August 14, 2004 1623 Whitesville Rd., Toms River, NJ

Attendees: Bob Rheault, Joe Conti, Ed Rhodes, Karen Rivara, Tom Kehoe, George Mathis, Gef Flimlin, Tom Leggett, Leslie Sturmer, Tom Gallivan, Rob Garrison, Jeff Gardner, Rick Karney, Karen Oertel.

Treasurer’s Report

We have approximately $12,000 in the bank.

Membership Report

New members are being added monthly, but we need to do a better job of attracting new members. Some of the larger growers are waiting to see what we can do for them that they are not already doing for themselves. Dues structure for ‘05 will be reexamined by subcommittee.

Need to work on getting more equipment/service supplier members and funding from sources other than dues, such as festivals, grants.

Incremental steps are necessary to build ECSGA, and we need to work to shed our Northeastern emphasis.


Fine tuning needed and proposed changes will be circulated in advance of the annual meeting

Grant Funding Opportunities

Ed Rhodes submitted an application for a Jefferson Grant (USDA) seeking funds for public education on food safety issues. This year’s emphasis was on children and obesity so we didn’t win an award, but we will try again in ’05.

Sandy MacFarlane took the lead on submitting a Best Management Practices proposal, but fell victim to budget cuts and priority shifts at NOAA left us out, but we will submit again in ’05 if we fit the RFP.

Bob Rheault examined opportunities for a USDA Value Added Producer Grant, which could provide up to $500,000 in marketing funds, however the program requires extensive preparation and preplanning. In order to be prepared for the 2005 RFP we need to start developing relationships with producers, processors and marketing experts well in advance. Anyone who wants to be involved should contact their BOD representative.

We may receive some funds from NRAC to help develop a strategic plan for shellfish research and extension needs for the region and for putting together regional Industry Situation and Outlook.

Ed Rhodes is submitting a proposal to NRAC to do a Business Feasibility Study for small scale oyster culture business.

Both PCSGA and Gulf Oyster Industry Council send their members to DC to hold receptions and lobby their congressional delegations. Their efforts are rewarded in the form of substantial congressional funds. Tom Kehoe, Bob Rheault and Ed Rhodes joined them last February to see how it works. We need to organize as many participants from as many states as possible and hit Washington next year to see if we can also get some direct congressional funding for the ECSGA.


The summer marketing meeting was thinly attended, but timing was tough. Most of the discussion focused on attracting new membership to get the association on firm ground.

The impact of generic marketing of shellfish was questioned. Marketing experts tend to agree that brand or niche marketing is more effective, but this is something that is difficult for a coastwide organization like the ECSGA.

Tom Kehoe suggested we might want to have hospitality suite at next spring’s Boston Seafood Show.

Web site

The Board decided that it is time to investigate pricing and options for a professional web site manager. Having the work done by volunteers was adequate to a point, but we need to adopt a more professional web presence.

Future Plans/Activities

The annual meeting will be held in conjunction with the East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s Expo and Aquaculture Show in Ocean City, MD. We will hold a half day speaker session annual membership meeting and a short BOD meeting. (see page 1)

The ECSGA is also co-sponsoring the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration. Nov. 17-20, 2004 in Charleston, SC. See article this issue

February Walk on the Hill in Washington, DC. We want to explore the possibility of coordinating with the PCSGA for a reception possibly in ’06. Karen Rivara suggested that Sen. Clinton’s office might be of some help. Tom, Ed and Karen Rivara agreed to look into the February plans.

Regional Slurps, links with wine or beers. The Block Island Oyster Festival was highly successful, generating exposure for growers and funds for the association. We need to do more of these.

Gef Flimlin is trying to set up an oyster event at the National Shellfisheries Association annual meeting in April at the Sansome Street Oyster House in Philadelphia and another oyster event at Doris and Ed’s Restaurant in Highlands, NJ. They have an extensive wine selection and look to show them off with our oysters.

Next BOD meetings

By-laws call for four BOD meetings per year, but two might be sufficient. We could shoot for two short electronic conferences in the spring and fall and two face-to-face meetings; the annual meeting and during the summer.

We will have a BOD meeting in Ocean City, MD before the general membership meeting, and possibly a teleconference scheduled for the Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Expo (NACE) December 2-4.

Vision and direction for the next year and more

We need to set some realistic goals for the next year, e.g., money, marketing and membership. We discussed polling members to get feedback on important issues and using that information to develop specific initiatives. Exposure for ECSGA is very important for success.

Seafood Consumption Rose Again in 2003

Americans ate a record 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish per person in 2003, up from 15.6 pounds in 2002, representing a four percent increase.

This figure extends an upward trend in U.S. seafood consumption. Seafood consumption was only 14.9 pounds per capita five years ago.

Of the total 16.3 pounds consumed, a record 11.4 pounds were fresh and frozen finfish and shellfish.

These figures were published in NOAA’s annual report, "Fisheries of the United States." For additional details on recent seafood consumption trends, go to

ECSGA Board of Directors, August 2004

(L-R Bob Rheault, Joe Conti, Gef Flimlin, Karen Rivara, Tom Kehoe and George Mathis.)

Ed Rhodes promotes shellfish at SoundWaters Conservation Day, September 2004 in Stamford, CT


Member Benefits Include:

Listing on our website for growers, dealers and hatcheries

Advertising for suppliers in our newsletters

Representation to Federal agencies on matters of coast-wide impact

Immediate response to press inquiries and shellfish illness reports

For advertising rate information contact Bob Rheault (401) 783-3360

Visit our web site

See our new brochure – Shellfish Aquaculture is Good for the Environment!



















The mission of the ECSGA is to promote responsible commercial shellfish aquaculture through market research and promotion, active involvement in public education, participation in policy formation at the state and national levels, and directed research.

Contents of this Issue

From the Mouth of the Bay ……………...…………………page 1

Annual Meeting ………………………………………..… 1

World Champ Oyster Eater ……...............…………….…page 1

Intl. Conf on Shellfish Restoration ………………….… 2

Block Island Oyster Festival…………………….……..…page 2

Country of Origin Labeling …………..………………… 3

Cultured Shellfish Green Again! .……………………..…page 4

ECSGA BOD meeting minutes ……………………..… 4