Soundkeeper’s History

The Soundkeeper has a 30-year history on Long Island Sound.

In the 1980s, your harbors were full of dying fish and shellfish, dirty beaches, and waters almost devoid of oxygen. The Sound was not safe for people or wildlife; it was dying.

Lobstermen and oyster farmers were among the first to notice. They were also among the first to take action.

Under the leadership of Terry Backer and Chris Staplefelt, fishers in the western Sound banded together to fight back against polluters. The group formed the Connecticut Coastal Fishermen’s Association (CCFA) and with guidance from Hudson Riverkeeper John Cronin and Riverkeeper Attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., they sued four municipalities along the Connecticut coast for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Using funds from a legal settlement with the city of Norwalk, the CCFA founded Soundkeeper, Inc. and Terry Backer became the first on-the-water watchdog for Long Island Sound.

Terry, a third-generation commercial fisherman, worked tirelessly to protect the Sound using Soundkeeper’s special blend of advocacy, watchdogging, and legal enforcement to restore its waters. In 1992, he was elected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, where he spoke up for the Sound in hearings and on the floor of the legislature. Terry served as Soundkeeper until he passed away in 2015.

To continue Terry’s legacy, Save the Sound has relaunched this essential watchdog.

Bill Lucey, the new Long Island Soundkeeper, is an advocate, organizer, and resource for citizens and groups interested in water quality issues throughout the region.

Your Soundkeeper is part of a team. This on-the-water watchdog:

  • coordinates closely with Save the Sound’s water quality team, which monitors the Sound coastline, tributary streams, bays and harbors, and identifies and prioritizes opportunities to reduce pollution;
  • advocates for the Sound in partnership with our program staff, who develop science-based policy solutions and seek funding for water infrastructure; and
  • is backed by our team of environmental attorneys, who enforce the Clean Water Act and hold polluters accountable.

Stay connected. Follow your Soundkeeper and all Save the Sound’s programs on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 21
Join our 9th annual Paddle for the Sound! Paddle with a kayak, canoe, or SUP (your own or a rental), track your distance, raise funds, and win gear prizes! This event supports the health and protection of Long Island Sound.

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