Conditional Shellfish Harvesting Programs
Conditional harvesting programs allow shellfish diggers to take shellfish from areas that are usually classified as uncertified. Under certain conditions water quality predictably improves to the point where normally uncertified waters meet the standards for certified shellfishing areas. Conditional programs are typically operated during the colder months of the year, usually from mid-December through mid-April, when bacteria levels in the water are lower and there is less rainfall related runoff.
Conditional programs are operated by the Bureau of Marine Resources (BMR) in cooperation with most towns in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Each year BMR requests each town to recommend two areas where local shellfish diggers have expressed interest in having designated as conditional harvesting areas. BMR's Shellfisheries Section evaluates the water quality of each requested area. The towns assist in collecting water samples which are examined in the BMR's FDA approved microbiology laboratory. The results are used to determine how much rainfall and runoff each area can receive and still have water quality consistently suitable for the harvest of shellfish.
Once the rainfall levels are identified a program can be established. BMR and the towns send out "Notices To Shellfish Harvesters" to advise diggers of the details of the program and how to participate.