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For Release: Thursday, May 4, 2017

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

Closure Due to the Finding of a Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish

DEC will continue regular monitoring of closed areas to determine when they can be reopened

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced a temporary ban on the harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in western Shinnecock Bay (Town of Southampton). Additionally, the harvesting of carnivorous gastropods in Deep Hole Creek, Halls Creek and a section of Great Peconic Bay (Town of Southold) will also be temporarily banned.

The temporary closures in the two Suffolk County towns are effective immediately on May 4, 2017, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin in shellfish. The closures are implemented to protect public health. Filter-feeding shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels and scallops) can accumulate marine biotoxins which can cause illness in shellfish consumers. Carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) feed on shellfish and can also accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.

In Southampton, that portion of Shinnecock Bay lying west of Pine Neck Point, (East Quogue), and east of the Post Lane Bridge (Quogue), are temporarily closed to the harvest of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods. Approximately 1400 acres in western Shinnecock Bay are affected by the closure.

In Southold, all of Deep Hole Creek and Halls Creek, and a section of Great Peconic Bay surrounding the mouths of the two creeks, are temporarily closed to the harvest of carnivorous gastropods. Approximately 120 acres in the creeks and the bay are affected by the closure. This is the first time that Deep Hole Creek, Halls Creek and the adjacent area of Great Peconic Bay have been closed to the harvest of carnivorous gastropods due to marine biotoxins. The two creeks in Southold, and that adjacent area of Great Peconic Bay, are uncertified (closed) for shellfishing at this time of the year due to elevated bacteria levels.

This action was taken after DEC determined that mussels collected from biotoxin monitoring sites in the affected areas tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The mussel samples were collected by DEC and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) and tested by DEC as part of their marine biotoxin monitoring programs. Together, DEC and SCDHS maintain over 30 monitoring sites in the marine waters of Suffolk County. Both agencies will continue to check for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at their monitoring locations 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 shellfishing areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures.

Additionally, maps of the affected areas and information about these temporary closures are available on DEC's website. Information about marine biotoxins and paralytic shellfish poisoning is also available on DEC's website.

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