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For Release: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DEC Resumes Conditional Shellfishing Programs In Nassau And Suffolk Counties

Special Programs Provide Additional Harvesting Opportunities

A conditional shellfishing program will begin on January 15, 2015 in a section of Port Jefferson Harbor, in Suffolk County, that is usually closed (uncertified) for the harvest of shellfish, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

This special program, developed by DEC in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven and the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, provides additional harvesting opportunities in an area of approximately 180 acres. The conditional harvest program for this portion of Port Jefferson Harbor runs through April 17, 2015. The last time a conditional program operated in this area was during the winter of 2007-2008.

Water samples recently collected by the Town of Brookhaven and examined in DEC's microbiology lab in East Setauket indicate that this portion of the Port Jefferson Harbor consistently meets the strict bacteriological standards for a certified (open) area, provided there has been less than 0.75 inches or less of rainfall locally and the county's sewage treatment plant in Port Jefferson is operating effectively.

Town of Brookhaven staff record rainfall daily in the area and communicate with the treatment plant operator to verify effective operation of the plant. They use that information to make a decision to designate the area as open or closed (uncertified) for the harvest of shellfish. When a rainfall reading exceeds 0.75 inches, causing stormwater runoff that can adversely affect water quality, the area is closed for seven days. Local harvesters can learn the daily status of the area by calling the Town of Brookhaven at (631) 451-6918 after 7:30 a.m.

Similar conditional harvesting programs in the Town of Oyster Bay (Nassau County) and in the Town of Shelter Island (Suffolk County) started in December and November 2014, respectively. Conditional program areas are typically located closer to the shore and provide some degree of protection from winter wind and rough seas.

The conditional harvest area in Oyster Bay comprises approximately 225 acres in southern Oyster Bay Harbor, and this program runs through April 12, 2015. This area opens for harvest when there has been not more than 0.50 inches of rainfall locally. The program also requires effective operation of the local wastewater treatment plant. Local harvesters can learn the daily status of the area by calling the Town of Oyster Bay at (516) 677-5350 after 7:30 a.m.

The conditional program in Shelter Island runs through May 15, 2015. That conditional area comprises approximately 113 acres in Dering Harbor and is based on the effective operation of a small wastewater treatment facility in Shelter Island Heights. Harvesters can learn the daily status of that area by calling the town at (631) 749-0400, then selecting option 9, then option 7.

DEC is currently working with the Town of Hempstead (Nassau County) and the Town of Southampton (Suffolk County) to complete water quality testing of areas those towns requested DEC evaluate to determine if specific uncertified areas are suitable for conditional harvesting programs.

For more information, contact DEC's Shellfisheries Section during normal business hours at (631) 444-0492. Additionally, information about conditional harvesting programs is available on DEC's website.

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