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For Release: Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DEC Reclassifies Shellfish Harvesting Areas in Several Nassau and Suffolk County Embayments

427 Acres to be Closed to Shellfishing; 31 Acres to be Reopened for Shellfishing

In response to annual review of multiple data sources, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced new regulations that will close approximately 427 acres across several shellfishing areas in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The affected areas in six Long Island towns are now closed during part or all of the year. Areas being closed, or those having seasonally closed periods extended, were found to have elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria that do not meet New York State's bacteriological standards for certified (open) shellfish harvesting areas. DEC acted to close the areas to protect the health of shellfish consumers.

Areas affected by new or extended closures are:

  • 105 acres in Long Island Sound (towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead) will be closed year-round;
  • 132 acres in West Harbor, Fishers Island (town of Southold), will have the existing seasonal closure extended by 14 days;
  • One acre in Gardiners Bay (town of Southold) will be closed seasonally from May 1 through October 31;
  • 23 acres in Great Peconic Bay (town of Southold) will be closed year-round;
  • 80 acres in Lake Montauk (town of East Hampton) will have the existing seasonal closure extended by 60 days;
  • Eight acres in Moriches Bay (town of Southampton), closed seasonally, from May 1 through October 31;
  • Two acres in Greenport Harbor, Shelter Island Sound North (town of Southold), will be closed year-round;
  • 21 acres in Little Northwest Creek, Sag Harbor, (town of East Hampton) will be closed seasonally from May 1 through November 30;
  • 10 acres in Shinnecock Bay (town of Southampton) will be closed year-round; and
  • 257 acres in Smithtown Bay (towns of Smithtown and Huntington) will be closed year-round.

In addition, DEC has made the determination to reopen approximately 31 acres in three embayments in Suffolk County. The affected areas, in two towns, will be reopened to shellfishing during all or part of the year or have existing seasonal openings extended by several weeks. The areas being reopened, or having seasonally open periods extended, were found to meet the stringent standards for certified areas. DEC has reopened these areas to provide additional shellfishing opportunities for commercial and recreational harvesters. Nearly one million acres of certified harvest areas around Long Island are available for taking shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops) for human consumption.

Areas affected by the new openings are:

  • Seven previously closed acres in Bellport Bay (town of Brookhaven) will be opened year-round;
  • 24 acres in Pirates Cove, Fishers Island (town of Southold), will be seasonally open from October 1 through April 30, annually; and
  • Five acres in Mill Creek, a tributary of Shelter Island Sound North (town of Southold), will have its seasonally open period extended by 45 days.

Additional technical amendments to DEC regulations include clarifying and updating landmarks and other boundaries for delineating shellfish closure lines. DEC continues to monitor water quality throughout New York's marine district as part of its participation in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. DEC will make changes to the certification of shellfish lands as water quality conditions warrant.

In addition, DEC is mailing a Notice to Shellfish Harvesters to individuals that hold a 2019 shellfish diggers permit and reside in the towns in which the affected areas are located. These notices provide information about the changes and maps showing new closure lines. Detailed descriptions of the new landmarks and boundaries for the newly closed and reopened areas, including the new dates of the seasonal closures, are available from DEC by calling 631-444-0492.

The regulations adopting the changes announced today were effective immediately on July 12, and are expected to be published in the July 31, 2019, edition of the New York State Register (link leaves DEC website). Text descriptions and maps of all uncertified (closed) areas are available on DEC's website at.

For more information about shellfish safety and New York's role in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, visit DEC's website.

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