Fishermen's Alliance to invest in Regional Shellfish Hatchery
Story and photos by Tim Wood
DENNIS --- When John Pappalardo brought the idea of investing in Aquaculture Research Corporation, the region’s largest supplier of seed shellfish, to the board of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, the initial response was “We don’t do shellfish.”
Pappalardo, the non-profit group’s CEO, responded by reminding board members that when fin fishing is slow, or fishermen get sidelined by closures, they traditionally turn to shellfishing to supplement their incomes.
“We all do shellfish,” Pappalardo said.
On Monday, a coalition of public and private agencies, including the Alliance, announced a nearly $5 million plan to preserve as conservation land 30 of the 39 acres owned by Aquaculture Research Corporation, better known on the Cape as ARC, as well as provide resources to allow the aging hatchery – the first of its kind in the country – to modernize and expand.
There isn’t a town on the Cape that doesn’t purchase shellfish seed from ARC’s facility at Chase Garden Creek on Chapin Beach Road in Dennis. The millions of tiny clams, oysters and scallops provide a harvest for both commercial and recreational shellfishermen that, because of changes in ecology and water quality, might not otherwise be there. ARC also provides seed to most of the Cape’s private aquaculture operations, which have an annual economic value of $12.5 million.
Chatham, which hosts the Cape’s most productive wild shellfishery, also buys seed from ARC which is grown and cared for in the town’s upwelling facility on Stage Harbor.