Aug 13 2013

Oyster Pirates of Cape Cod

Published by at 8:35 am under Cape Cod,Clamming

Someone in Barnstable has been stealing dirty oysters.

In late July a thief or thieves hit the town of Barnstable's oyster farm up inside of Prince's Cove: pretty much one of the foulest bodies of water one can imagine. They made off with 3,000 clams, doubtlessly for resale, and I pity the alimentary canals of the poor unsuspecting oyster eaters who down one of them. The town's Department of Natural Resources grows the clams from seed and then transfers them to cleaner water so the recreational clamming permit holders can harvest them at their leisure after an appropriate amount of cleansing time (I deride this practice as "grocery shopping" as one basically puts on waders and picks up clams from the bottom, but hey, a clam is a clam and oysters are awesome water filters)

According to news reports, the oysters were valued at a buck a piece, so this was a pretty significant theft. I don't know how any reputable fish market handles the provenance of oysters brought in by the commercial aquaculturists, but someone, somewhere probably tried to fence them. This wasn't the first theft reported this summer. Someone hit an aquaculture grant on the northside in Dennis earlier.

Oyster theft and piracy is a long standing crime. Jack London wrote about the oyster pirates of San Francisco Bay in the 19th century. The Chesapeake Bay area was the scene of some piracy as well.

Waterfront crime has been an issue in the Three Bays area of Cotuit for sometime now. The Cotuit Mosquito Yacht Club's gas tanks have been ripped off a couple times this summer and the town has set up some web cams at the Cotuit Town Dock (which make me homesick when I'm sitting in midtown Manhattan on a bright summer day).

thanks to Tom Burgess for the tip

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Oyster Pirates of Cape Cod”

  1. jim forbeson 14 Aug 2013 at 10:19 am

    Mebbe they were filched by the “Free The Filter Feeder Liberation Front?”

  2. Churbuck.com » Fencing Clamson 19 Apr 2014 at 6:30 am

    […] The Cape Cod Clam Caper appears to have been solved. A spate of thefts last year  from commercial and municipal oyster grants from Dennis to Marstons Mills meant someone was stealing tens of thousands of clams and finding a way to fence them.  Which meant someone was selling the public "transfer" clams being grown in polluted water before their transfer and cleansing. […]

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