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Darien Lobsterman Calls For End To Pesticide Use To Restore The Industry

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Roger Frate, owner of Darien Seafood Market hold lobsters during a stop by Murphy Tuesday at Frate's business to talk about the health of the lobster industry. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Roger Frate of Darien speaks about lobster fishing issues while U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, center, and Frate's fellow fisherman Tony Carlo, of Norwalk, right. Murphy stopped in Darien to talk about Long Island Sound's lobster industry. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

DARIEN, Conn. -- Roger Frate of Darien has a simple answer to improving the stock of lobster in Long Island Sound.

"We've got a bad situation here unless we can tell New York what to do," Frate told U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., on Tuesday. Frate wants New York State to curb pesticide use, which he said is responsible for the dramatic drop-off in the number of lobsters in the Sound.

Murphy stopped by Frate's Darien Seafood Market to speak with Frate and fellow commercial fisherman Tony Carlo of Norwalk about the state of the lobster stocks and to drum up support for a bill he is backing.

The Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act would seek funding of $65 million for water quality and shore restoration programs. Murphy supports the bill, along with his fellow Connecticut Democrat U.S. Richard Blumenthal, and New York's two Democratic U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

Frate said it was pesticide used to combat the West Nile Virus in 1998 and 1999 that decimated the Sound's lobster population and sent it into a tailspin from which it has yet to recover.

Connecticut banned the use of some pesticides, but New York hasn't, he said.

But Carlo said he's noticed a rebound in the number of lobsters.

“The lobsters right now are looking nice and healthy," he said. "There’s been a huge improvement since 2012.”

However, Frate said fishermen still believe pesticides are harming lobsters.

Murphy said the money could help New York State alter its practices. Restoring the lobster population would help the once-thriving lobstering industry that supported hundreds of people in Connecticut.

“This is just a tragedy, what has happened to the lobsters in the Sound," he said. "We shouldn’t accept it as inevitable.”

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