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For Release: Thursday, July 16, 2015

DEC Announces Temporary Shellfishing Closure Of Three Mile Harbor For Fireworks Weekend

Temporary Closure Begins July 18

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced the temporary closure of Three Mile Harbor, in the Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, during the annual Clamshell Foundation, Great Bonac Fireworks Show. The closure begins at sunrise on Saturday, July 18, 2015, and continues through Wednesday, July 22.

This closure is put in place annually during the busy festivities to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. Boaters are reminded to use pump-out facilities to help protect these waters.

No shellfish can be taken from Three Mile Harbor during this period. DEC expects to re-open the area for shellfishing on Thursday, July 23. In the event of rain, the fireworks will take place on Sunday, July 19.

During the past 22 years, Three Mile Harbor has been temporarily closed to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks event and for four days afterward. DEC enacted the temporary closure due to the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds if there were discharges of sewage from the large number of recreational boats that typically gather for the popular event. Discharges of fecal material from marine toilets may contaminate nearby shellfish, rendering the shellfish hazardous for human consumption.

The annual event draws hundreds of boaters each year, including many that stay overnight. Boaters are reminded that they are required to use pump out facilities in the Peconic-Gardiners Bay area, which includes Three Mile Harbor, because the area is a No-Discharge Zone. A No-Discharge Zone is a designated body of water where discharges of treated or untreated boat sewage are prohibited. The Town of East Hampton Trustees operates a pump out boat and the Town Harbormaster's office at Gann Road has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no fee for the boater. The town's pump out boat can be contacted using marine radio VHF channel 73.

A recorded telephone message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. A message will also be provided by the East Hampton Town, Department of Natural Resources Office at (631) 324-6393. Further information about rain dates, early re-opening or extensions of closures will be made available at these numbers. Additionally, information about special shellfish closures is available on DEC's website.

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