Bill to let Groton magnet school students sell fish they raise passes House

Hartford — A two-part bill that would tighten regulations for harvesting scallops from the Niantic River and allow students at the Marine Science Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut to sell their aquarium-raised fish passed the House of Representatives Monday.

The bill and a clarifying amendment made it through on a unanimous 145-0 vote; it now moves to the Senate for final approval.

On the scallops end, the legislation prohibits the taking of juvenile scallops that can pass through a 2½-inch ring. The current standard is a 2-inch ring. It also confirms the legal authority of the Waterford/East Lyme Shellfish Commission to limit the number of scallops that a person can take in one day.

“This will help to ensure that scallops have a chance to reproduce, and increase the scallop population in the river,” state Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, said Monday in presenting the bill.

The bill also would streamline the state licensing process for “aquaculture” systems that cultivate seafood for human consumption. Students at the Groton magnet school have been raising 600 tilapia and rainbow trout since winter and hope to eventually sell the fish to Grossman’s Seafood in Groton and Mystic.

Principal Nicholas Spera was thrilled that the bill passed by such a wide margin. He said the fish are doing great, with the tilapia already large enough for market.

“This is great news,” he said.

j.reindl@theday.com

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