View Full Version : MA State of Emergency

06-09-2005, 10:48 AM
Romney just declared a State of Emergency for the MA Shell Fisheries industry becuase of the red tide....more to come on relief to commercial shell fishermen....

06-09-2005, 10:50 AM

06-09-2005, 11:01 AM
BOSTON -- Lawmakers requested emergency help from the government Wednesday as a toxic red tide that has shut down shellfishing beds from Maine to Martha's Vineyard showed no signs of abating.

About two thirds of Massachusetts shellfishing flats were already closed, and the toxic algae bloom is expected to persist through what is traditionally the peak shellfishing season - the weeks leading to the July 4th holiday.

The timing of the outbreak "almost couldn't be worse," said Ted Keon, the coastal resource director in Chatham, where the town's shellfishing industry, with a $5.5 million annual wholesale value, is idle.

"There are a lot of nervous people," Keon said. "There's a lot of anxiety."

A letter written Wednesday by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and also signed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, and U.S. Reps. William Delahunt, Barney Frank, John Tierney and Jim McGovern asks the U.S. Small Business Administration to declare an "economic injury disaster," which would make some of region's sidelined shellfishermen eligible for low interest loans. The lawmakers also sent a letter to Gov. Mitt Romney asking him to join in their request.

Local lawmakers have already asked Romney to declare a state of emergency, which could make Massachusetts eligible for federal aid. The state's shellfishing industry has an annual wholesale value of about $24 million.

"I think there's millions being lost," said state Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable. "(Romney) needs to step up and do this."

Romney scheduled a meeting for Monday between lawmakers and senior administration officials and said he'll make a decision based on the strength of the state's case for federal help.

"We recognize that this is an enormous hardship on our shellfish and fishing industry, and we want to receive any federal support we can," Romney said.

Red tide is named for the rust red color it turns waters where it's found in particularly high concentrations. The type of red tide algae in this outbreak contaminates only shellfish, making them unsafe and even fatal for animals and humans to eat.

This year's bloom was pushed by unusually strong north and northeast winds into Massachusetts Bay, where it thrived in warmer waters. From there it wrapped around Cape Cod and forced its way through the Cape Cod Canal for the first time.

Dennis McGillicuddy, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which has been tracking the tide, said the bloom could have been fed by a recent, and unexplained, increase in the number of cysts of the toxic algae, called Alexandrium, left on the coastal floor between Maine and Cape Ann.

The cysts, which act like seeds, were "planted" when Alexandrium cells from past blooms transformed into armored cysts and sank to the ocean floor. The cysts can remain dormant for months, and even years, before germinating and swimming to the surface as part of a new bloom.

McGillicuddy estimates the outbreak will persist at toxic levels for a minimum two to three weeks, though it could be longer given the abnormally high levels of algae cells. Once the algae bloom is gone, it takes two to three weeks for affected shellfish to flush themselves out, he said.

"This is such an extreme event, so unlike what we've seen in the past, it's really hard to predict," he said.

In a sign of the bloom's endurance, toxin levels in closed shellfishing areas continued to rise Wednesday, though the bloom hadn't spread enough to force the state to close additional flats, said state shellfish biologist J. Michael Hickey.

The state's worst previous red tide outbreak was 1972, when the state enacted a blanket closure of all its shellfishing beds. Hickey said the current outbreak has probably affected a greater area than the 1972 tide, though it's unknown whether it is as toxic.

Amelia Lopes, owner of Amelia's Subs and Seafood in Gloucester, said she's still getting enough clams, but the price has jumped by over 40 percent in recent weeks. She's never seen a red tide this bad, and she worries about a shortage if it continues.

"Clams are a big part of our summer business, people come from all over the country," she said. "If this persists, I don't know if we'll have enough to last all summer long."

06-09-2005, 11:35 AM
What a crock of crap....when building home's took a nose dive into a bottomless pit, did anyone offer the thousands of trade's people a red cent no...what make's clammer's so top shelf.....I talked to a [was full time] clammer testerday, he said there's very few clam's out there on monomoy cause these guy's wiped them all their crying help anyway's...let them find other work to do like everyone has to from time to time.

06-16-2005, 05:39 AM
is because of the relationship with tourists who come from all over the USA to have some tasty clams at the seaside clam shops.