CRONKITE: Norwalk’s Tallmadge
Brothers, which started in the 1870s is the largest single oyster company in the United States
with about 22,000 acres of oyster grounds.
Captain Dave Hopp has worked for Tallmadge Brothers for more than 35
HOPP (Capt., Tallmadge Bros. Oysters): My great grandfather, grandfather
were all oystermen and I kind of got into it with them.
we caught a load of market sized oysters, off a bed. The oysters are
approximately 4 years old. They’re originally from Bridgeport;
they’ve been transplanted three times since they set on the… beds.
July we plant kulch which is old oyster shells that have been dried on
the beach. …The oyster spawns, the larvae swims in the water, young
oyster. It finally settles after about 14 days onto these clean
shells. They grow their own shell from the clean shell that they set
on. And the following year we move them to another area where we
spread them out so they’ll grow properly and make the nice oyster
that you eat on a half shell.
CRONKITE: Oysters, like any agricultural crop, are subject to
environmental conditions, various pests and predators. The industry is
presently battling a killer parasite.
in the state, like Edward Lang, are
part-time oyster farmers. Lang has been an oysterman since 1977.
(Part-time Oyster Farmer): This
is called Fence Creek and it’s in the town of Madison, and it’s
important because it’s an ideal habitat for growing oysters. And I
lease this area from the Town of Madison Shellfish Commission and for
the past 10 years I’ve been raising seed oysters in there. And
although you can see we’re in the middle of a marsh here, just
across the street, maybe 500 feet to the other side of the street is
Long Island Sound.
we got hit with a double parasite: Dermo and MSX and the oyster bed
which was packed with live oysters. Unfortunately, about 80 or 90 percent of them are dead.
And, for example, there’s a shell that was in here last year
that had an oyster set on it …it’s absolutely covered with baby
oysters, probably 15, 16 oysters on here. Unfortunately, every one of
them has died.
it takes 4, 5 years for an oyster to grow from a set to a market size
oyster and all of my mature oysters have, 90 percent of them have
perished, so probably I won’t have a marketable crop for at least 4
or 5 years if the disease goes away.
CRONKITE: Non-agricultural commercial maritime activity has
also long been important to the state. Today, large ports are
being upgraded in New London, New Haven and Bridgeport. To promote its
ports, the state of Connecticut has undertaken a centralized marketing
and planning initiative.
port in New London, the only facility actually owned by the state, has
lumber as its major cargo
activity. In New Haven, a
major oil importing seaport, automobile
scrap is regularly exported to Asia.
And In Bridgeport, banana boats come in on a weekly basis from
Colombia delivering bananas for distribution as far west as the
Midwest and as far north as Canada.
marine trade businesses are also a significant component of
Connecticut's maritime economy. Some
businesses, such as netmaking and sailmaking, echo back to the early
days of seafaring Connecticut.
more often, the type of maritime business has evolved, primarily
reflecting the growth of recreational boating.
the early 1940s, one such business that has prospered is the marina.
Today, the shoreline and rivers are dotted with about 175
marinas, hosting thousands of pleasure boats.
Thayer has been in the marina business since 1974.
THAYER (Owner, Thayer’s Marine) had, you know, he had to support
nine people so during the war he became a machinist and he also became
a fisherman so he could stay out of the draft.
So I learned boat building, I learned skills, I learned how to
fish and I just kept on going.
You gotta be
very versatile. You gotta do it all. You gotta build, you gotta weld,
you gotta be a ship-fitter, you gotta be a pipe-fitter, you gotta be a
machinist. And the
biggest thing you gotta do is you’ve gotta be a good troubleshooter.
sell bait, we sell tackle. We
sell hardware, we sell all the oils and all the chemicals that are
needed to clean your boats. We
sell boats, we sell trailers. We
do a lot of electrical work. We take and we build hulls, we do a lot
of repower so if somebody needs power by the weekend, I could get them
back in the water for the weekend.
Everybody wants a boat. Everybody when the weather is like it
is here everybody wants a boat. The
recreational person likes to take a boat, sit on it, enjoy the
weather, enjoy the atmosphere and maybe just tool around, but
they’ll plan a trip, at least one trip a year they’ll plans
something. The fisherman,
his boat’s got to be ready. He wants to fish.