Clinton Harbor and its estuaries, the Indian, Hammock and Hammonasset Rivers, have a deep history in shellfish farming. Oysters, clams and mussels were consumed in great quantities by Native American inhabitants and early European settlers as a reliable food source.
The shellfish industry historically has been of great economic importance to Clinton. Commercial shell fishing in Clinton dates back to as early as the 1700’s, and by the late-1800’s Clinton was recognized as one of the top producers of oysters in the World. Throughout the 1800’s, the famed Clinton Oyster was served up regularly in Manhattan as the oyster of choice.
Oysters were abundant in Clinton prior to 1997 when the oyster population suffered a high mortality rate due to two oyster diseases. However, unlike other shoreline communities, Clinton Harbor had a fair amount of oysters that survived the oyster diseases. This “disease resistant” brood stock, known as the Clinton Strain Oyster, has been harvested and used since early 2000’s by oyster farmers throughout Long Island Sound. A juvenile Clinton Strain Oyster, whether it be found in Clinton waters, or on Long Island, can be identified with a black stripe. As the oysters age, the black stripe tends to be less noticeable.