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For Release: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DEC Temporarily Closes Areas in Town of Southampton, Suffolk County for the Harvest of Shellfish and Carnivorous Gastropods

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in particular areas in the Town of Southampton and the Town of Riverhead have been temporarily closed, effective immediately, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin.

The closure impacts approximately 3,900 acres in the Town of Southampton, covering all the underwater lands in Shinnecock Bay that lie west of the southbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge and west of the western side of the Post Lane Bridge in Quogue. All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in these lands is prohibited until further notice in an effort to protect public health. Approximately 30 acres in the Town of Riverhead is also included, covering all the underwater lands in Meetinghouse Creek. All harvesting of carnivorous gastropods in this area is prohibited until further notice; shellfish harvesting in Meetinghouse Creek is currently prohibited year round. A map showing the affected areas will be available on DEC's website.

This action was taken after DEC determined that shellfish samples collected from a monitoring site at Weesuck and Penniman Creek in Southampton and Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The samples were tested as part of DEC's marine biotoxin monitoring program. Carnivorous gastropods, which feed on shellfish, may also accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.

On April 3, 2012, DEC also closed approximately 92 acres for the harvest of shellfish in Mattituck Creek and Mattituck Inlet, including all sides of the rock jetties that protect the inlet. These areas remain closed for shellfishing.

DEC will continue to monitor for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at 18 other locations around Long Island and implement closures as necessary to protect public health.

DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted over the next few weeks. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporarily closed shellfish areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closure.

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