The Norwalk River enters Long Island Sound at Veteran’s Park in South Norwalk, 40 miles northeast of Manhattan. At the river’s mouth is a tidal estuary and harbor used by hundreds of pleasure and fishing boats. Marine life is abundant, and oyster fishing has been an important activity going back to pre-colonial times.
Norwalk Harbor is much improved over the last 20 years (reports available here). The oyster industry brings in a commercial harvest worth $30 million a year (Copps Island Oysters, 2018). This figure does not include the value of recreational oyster harvests. In Norwalk 77,000 acres are considered oyster grounds and roughly 600 people are directly involved in harvesting. This number does not include many hundreds more that make up the fringe employment, truck drivers, shippers, inspectors, etc. The kelp industry is a new arrival, with a defined market still emerging. Another new industry underway is a large-scale effort to raise oysters on land through the early larval stages when they are most open to predatory forces (aquaculture) and then releasing them to the wild once they set. All of these industries, established and emerging, involve food products and are predicated on clean water.
Educational tours of the harbor are offered by the Maritime Aquarium, and an annual Oyster Festival is sponsored by the Norwalk Seaport Association. One mile offshore is a chain of islands which serve as a wildlife refuge and, in specific areas, as a popular destination for boaters. One particular attraction is the historic Sheffield lighthouse.