Shaheen Takes a Ride Around Great Bay, Praises Federally Funded Research

Aug 18, 2017

Shaheen spoke with Jay Baker, owner of Fat Dog Oysters about his underwater oyster farm in Little Bay.
Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

With Congress out on its annual August recess, New Hampshire’s congressional delegation has been enjoying more time in the state.

On Thursday, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen spent the afternoon exploring Great Bay.

Senator Shaheen’s visit to Great Bay felt a lot like a school field trip.

It began at UNH’s Jackson Laboratory on Adam’s Point, where one scientist after another showcased their research on Great Bay’s marine life.

From investigating whether the invasive green crab problem could turn into a local culinary opportunity.

“What would determine whether we can eat them, what they taste like?

How much meat they give – if they’ll be profitable or not.”

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

To flipping over a horseshoe crab to have a closer look at many little legs tucked inside the prehistoric species’ shell.

“Do all of the legs have those?

No, just the last two.

Ah.

After the lab, Shaheen took a short boat ride out to the Fat Dog oyster farm.

“It’s four and a half acres, you can see…

And is it marked by these buoys?

Exactly, this is the seaward edge…”

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

Jay Baker is owner of the mostly underwater farm. He says the oyster farming industry is still new and fragile. And that’s partly why he’s concerned about a proposed Eversource project to bury a powerline across the bay.

“Obviously oysters are filter feeders so whatever is put into the water column, they’re going to suck up. And they’ve really selected a technology that has maximum sediment dispersal.

Eversource says its technology is environmentally responsible and won’t damage the bay’s ecosystem.

The federal government doesn’t have a say in whether that project is approved. But the Senator said there are questions about Eversource’s plan that need to be answered before it goes forward.

Shaheen does have some influence over federal funding for research.

Back at the lab, researchers expressed gratitude for her defense of their funding in current budget negotiations in Washington.

Shaheen says the dollars are well spent.

“The bay is not beautiful the way it is and all of the pristine coastline there doesn’t just happen accidentally.”

And with that, the Senator returned to dry land, armed with more local anecdotes and a little spray from the boat ride for her return to Washington.