Shellfish coalition names Staneski ‘Legislator of the Year’

Left to right are Nancy Follini and Joe Gilbert of Briarpatch, Rep Terrie Wood, (R- 141st Darien), Rep. Pam Staneski, (R-119th, Milford), Rep. Joe de la Cruz, (D-41st Groton), James Amann, Senior Partner at IGS, Ed Stillwagen, Atlantic Clam Farms and Rep. Kim Rose, (D-118th Milford.)

The Coalition of Connecticut Shellfishers, presented its “Legislators of the Year” awards at a dinner on Aug. 8 at Milford’s Briarpatch dock, including an award to State Rep. Pam Staneski.

The event recognizes individual legislators whose particular efforts achieved extraordinary results during the past year’s regular Connecticut General Assembly legislative session, according to a press release announcing the award.

This year’s short session, which ran from Feb. 7 through May 9, saw debate on several issues that Connecticut’s shellfish industry representatives say are important.

Among the top issues legislators grappled with were continuing the conversation with legislators on an alternative shellfish testing facility at UCONN’s Avery Point in Groton, the implementation of GPS tracking devices on shellfish boats and their related costs, and continuing the dialogue with state Department of Agriculture officials on making the leasing process of shellfish beds more open and inclusive.

The Coalition named Staneski (R- 119th district) Legislator of the Year for her commitment to Connecticut’s shellfishing industry and the work she performed in helping protect Connecticut’s coastal shellfish beds and spawning grounds, according to a press release issued Thursday.

In accepting the award, Staneski, who represents Milford and Orange, said, “It is a privilege to be recognized by the Coalition of Connecticut Shellfishers as their 2018 Legislator of the Year. Connecticut’s and, in particular, Milford’s, shellfishing industry is vital to our shoreline businesses and the region. I have sat down and listened to these outstanding members of the business community who want to be partners in planning, growing and, yes, regulating this essential Connecticut industry. All they want from the state are common sense laws that protect their right to earn a living. I am honored to work alongside them in these efforts. “

Representative Joe de la Cruz (D – 41st District) was honored as Legislative Advocate of the Year for his advocacy with fellow legislators and sponsorship of legislation to aid Connecticut’s shellfish industry.

De la Cruz said, “I am honored to receive this award and will continue to fight for our state’s shellfish industry. In my opinion, Connecticut produces the best oysters in the world and we should do everything possible to ensure the industry thrives.”

Host Joseph Gilbert, of Briarpatch Enterprises and Empire Fisheries in Milford, said, “Today’s recipients – one Democrat and one Republican – demonstrate that the importance to Connecticut of its historic shellfishing industry crosses party lines when it comes to protecting jobs, a way of life and preserving a significant contributor to our state’s economy. We are grateful for their steadfast, common sense support and involvement.”       

James Amann, principal of International Government Strategies, and Speaker Emeritus of the Connecticut General Assembly, whose lobbying firm represents Connecticut’s shellfishing industry, moderated the evening’s event and joined Gilbert in presenting the awards.

Amann said, “As a son of coastal Connecticut who calls Milford home, I understand the importance of our shellfishing industry to Connecticut’s economy. It is an honor for me, particularly as a former legislator, to recognize these two state representatives, who work hard year in and year out to preserve our historic industry, protect jobs and keep our shellfish industry profitable – not to mention, producing the finest shellfish offerings available anywhere.”

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