Wellfleet SPAT to Distribute $15K in Relief Funds

oystersWELLFLEET – A nonprofit organization that works to sustain Wellfleet’s shellfishing and aquaculture industries has added $10,000 to the Shellfishermen’s Relief Fund.

The money will be added to the $5,500 donated by attendees at OysterFest in October after the harbor’s beds were shut down due to a Norovirus outbreak.

All beds were closed down on October 13 when the outbreak was detected. Federal requirements mandate a minimum 21-day closure if a Norovirus outbreak is detected. The beds were reopened to shellfishing on November 14.

Wellfleet SPAT executive director Michele Insley said the board made the $10,000 donation because they believed the funds were needed.

“The money that we had had so far that was collected at the festival was not enough really to serve this need that we kept hearing was kind of significant,” Insley said. “The harvesters were out of work for over a month.”

Insley said the struggles many shellfishermen are having is paying significant bills like mortgages, loan payments, college tuition and other school payments.

“They are the things that you can only carry for so long when it starts kind of put you over the edge,” she said.

The closures were also tough on the larger growers who have employees and weren’t able to keep them working.

“It’s really been quite a challenge for everyone,” Insley said.

The board also discussed how the funds would be distributed.

Wellfleet SPAT encourages the public to continue to make donations as they believe the relief effort could be extended.

Checks can be mailed directly to Wellfleet SPAT, P.O. Box 2156, Wellfleet, MA 02667. Donations can also be made online at wellfleetspat.org under the “Get Involved” tab. Payments by check and online should include Shellfishermen’s Relief Fund in the memo line.

The nonprofit will also be holding an event at Whole Foods Market on December 8. Six Whole Foods stores will be giving 5 percent of its proceeds to SPAT on that day.

“In addition to telling shoppers about SPAT and the good work that we do and our dedication to Wellfleet shellfishing and aquaculture communities, we will encourage them to go to the fish market and buy some Wellfleet Oysters,” Insley said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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