State leaders split on clam bed control

A vote in the Connecticut House allowing Westport to take control of the clam bed off Seymour Point has caused some lawmakers to fire off criticism.

The bed sits between the Saugatuck Shores neighborhood of Westport and Cockenoe Island. Rep. Chris Caruso of Bridgeport is against the move. ?There is nothing prohibiting a town from setting the permit rates, the dollar amounts, the number of bushels that could be collected, the parking rates,? Caruso said.

Caruso claims some restrictions, such as fees, will not favor Connecticut clammers. He expects high fees to result in fishermen from outside Westport being excluded from the area.

Rep. Terry Backer of Stratford disagrees. ?What a bunch of bunk,? Backer said. ?When Westport last had the right to do this in 1994, they issued 3,000 permits, [and] 300 were taken by residents.?

One clammer wasn't a fan of paying for a permit, but didn't seem too concerned about who owned the bed. ?I don't really care who owns it as long as it's managed because I want it to be around,? said the clammer. ?Nobody likes to pay for anything but I think that if it's going to help conservation efforts, that it would be a good thing.?

The proposal must still be approved through the state Senate.

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