Recently Rep. Lee Zeldin toured the Widow’s Hole operation and met several other members of the Long Island Oyster Growers Association. He came, like most people do, to see what, exactly, an oyster farm is. What caught his attention was not the docks, gear and boats but the optimism of the oyster growers about their future. We are all looking to hire, and we aspire to feed New Yorkers a better protein while, as a by-product, we clean the bay and provide habitat for young fish fry.
What caught his attention most was not the docks, gear and boats but the optimism of the oyster growers about their future.
Just 18 months ago, Zeldin predecessor and member of the opposing party Rep. Tim Bishop came to Widow’s Hole to cut the ribbon on our new dock/work platform. Both men were equally encouraged to see the revival of oyster farming in Long Island’s bays. Zeldin mentioned fond childhood memories of clamming with his father; Bishop descends from seven generations of East End baymen and fishermen.
Oystering’s evocative appeal to all Long Island politicians (Greenport mayor George Hubbard and Southold town supervisor Scott Russell have both recently visited) and most Long Islanders is an especially heartwarming feature of our calling. While political invective can be fierce and ugly across the aisle, it is reassuring to see that both parties agree on the important things in life: clean water, healthy, outdoor livelihoods for Long Islanders and a revival of what once was the dominant industry in Long Island’s bays. If only politicians spent more time pondering the things they agree about, perhaps Washington, and Albany, and the various town boards would better function.
All oyster growers are looking to hire young, healthy men and women to do the sometime onerous but always inspirational work on the water. We look to government for minimal assistance but certainly do appreciate the support and encouragement of members of all parties. I count it as a fine day when Democrats and Republicans ask, “What do oyster farmers on Long Island need and want from the halls of power?” And all of us say at least one same thing: Eat more Long Island oysters!