DEC Reclassifies Shellfish Harvesting in Several Nassau and Suffolk

Citing recent water quality surveys, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced regulations that will close approximately 1,270 acres across several shellfishing areas in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The affected areas in five Long Island towns will now be closed during part or all of the year.

In addition, DEC will reopen approximately 1,170 acres in five embayments in Nassau and Suffolk counties. 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 affected by the new closures are:

1,100 acres in Hempstead Bay (town of Hempstead) will be seasonally closed from November 1 through April 30, annually;
98 acres in West Creek, a tributary of Great Peconic Bay (town of Southold), will be closed year-round;
• 44 acres in Orient Harbor and Oyster Ponds (town of Southold) will initially be closed seasonally, from May 15 through October 31, annually;
24 acres in Northwest Harbor (adjacent to the town of East Hampton) will be closed year-round;
Eight acres in outer Hempstead Harbor (adjacent the Town of Oyster Bay) will be closed year-round;
Three acres in Cold Spring Pond (town of Southampton) will have the existing seasonal closure period extended by 60 days;
One acre in Devon Yacht Club, off Napeague Bay (town of East Hampton), will become uncertified year-round.

The areas affected by the new openings are:

850 previously closed acres in Hempstead Bay (town of Hempstead) will become seasonally open for harvest from May 1 through October 31, annually;
171 acres in Goose, Town, and Jockey creeks, tributaries of Southold Bay (town of Southold), will have their current seasonally open periods extended by 46 days;
83 acres in Richmond Creek, a tributary of Little Peconic Bay (town of Southold), will have its seasonally open period extended by 30 days;
36 previously closed acres in Cutchogue Harbor (adjacent the town of Southold) will be seasonally open from November 1 through May 14, annually;
28 seasonally closed acres in Hallock Bay/Little Bay (town of Southold) will be opened year-round.

The areas being closed, or having seasonally closed periods extended, were found to have elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria that do not meet New York’s bacteriological standards for certified (open) shellfish harvesting areas. DEC acted to close the areas to protect the health of shellfish consumers.

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.

DEC will continue 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.

DEC will mail a “Notice To Shellfish Harvesters” to all individuals residing in the towns in which the affected areas are located who hold a 2018 shellfish diggers permit. These notices will provide the text of the changes and maps showing the 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 are effective immediately May 2, and are expected to be published in the May 23, 2018, edition of the New York State Register.

Text descriptions and maps of all uncertified shellfish closure areas are available on DEC’s website.

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