"The fishermen are gone; the lobsters are gone.....
Shellfishing's the one thing that remains"
Wherever oysters thrive, starfish are likely to follow. When Bren hoisted the cage on board, several starfish could be seen clinging to the grow-out-bag. They are an oyster's biggest predator, and it's a never-ending struggle to keep them from devouring the harvest. Combined with the threats from pollution, oysters are incredibly vulnerable in Long Island Sound.
There are more subtle enemies of the industry, as well.
In the early morning hours, Stony Creek has the look of a sleepy waterfront village that's somehow remained forgotten. For the most part, the houses here are relatively modest in size, and you don't see the usual assortment of seafood restaurants, gift shops, and other tourist oriented businesses which often dominate many shoreline towns. If you're looking to buy a Life Is Good or Black Dog tee-shirt, this is not the place.
Stony Creek was "discovered" long ago, but a great deal of effort and money is spent preserving its understated aura. Once an eclectic mix of summer residents, artists, quarrymen, fishermen, and assorted tradesmen who serviced the islands, it's become increasingly one-dimensional in recent decades. There's a Currier & Ives existence that's still embraced, but it's ornamental. The working waterfront is now residential houses, with oars and fishing gear precisely accenting their entryways. The word "quaint" gets tossed around a bit too much.
These real-estate pressures mean that Bren has no garage or workshop in town to repair his gear, process his oysters, or store supplies. With only a parking space for his truck, he has overcome these obstacles through innovative self-sufficiency.
In the bed of his truck rests a solar and battery powered refrigerator he uses to transport the oysters from the waterfront to market. Used by the armed forces in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, this is an expensive piece of equipment allowing him to operate without access to waterfront electricity. It also meets the regulatory safety requirements for transporting shellfish.
Now, if only there was a piece of equipment to keep the starfish and pollution at bay.
Soundbounder: Stony Creek 6am (part 1)
Soundbounder: Just Your Local Oysterman (part 2)
Soundbounder: Hauling The Cage (part 3)
Yale Sustainable Food Project
Our Ocean, Our Lives: The Last Oyster Haul?