The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has partially rescinded temporary emergency shellfish closures that were implemented in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in response to the coastal flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy. DEC had initially implemented the shellfishing closures on Monday, October 29 to protect public health. Some areas were reopened on November 7 and November 8 based on examination of samples collected on November 5 and 6.
DEC collected additional water samples in many areas on November 9 and November 10. Testing of those samples showed that water quality in a few areas was again suitable for shellfishing. Effective on Tuesday, November 13 the harvest of shellfish, including bay scallops, is permitted in the following areas:
- Towns Smithtown and Brookhaven (north shore): All of the normally certified shellfish lands in Stony Brook Harbor.
- Town of Shelter Island: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Coecles Harbor, West Neck Harbor, West Neck Creek, West Neck Bay, Menantic Creek and that portion of Shelter Island Sound lying southeasterly of a line from Paradise Point on Great Hog Neck (Town of Southold) to Crab Creek Point (Town of Shelter Island), adjacent to the Town of Shelter Island.
- Town of Southampton (north shore): All the normally certified shellfish lands in Noyac Bay and that portion of Shelter Island Sound lying southeasterly of a line from Paradise Point on Great Hog Neck (Town of Southold) to Crab Creek Point (Town of Shelter Island).
- Town of East Hampton: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Northwest Harbor and Napeague Bay.
However, all of the remaining enclosed creeks, coves, harbors, bays and their tributaries in Nassau and Suffolk County, not identified above or previously reopened on November 7 and 8 remain closed for the harvest of shellfish, including bay scallops through Wed., November 21.
The closures were implemented to protect the public health. The prolonged strong easterly winds, full moon and storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy caused significant coastal flooding that inundated septic systems and wastewater treatment systems in some low lying areas. Sewage treatment plants experienced temporary bypasses causing less than fully treated sewage to be discharged into certain shellfishing areas. When water quality in the enclosed creeks, coves, harbors and bays is adversely affected by such discharges, shellfish in those areas have an increased potential to be hazardous for use as food.
DEC will continue to collect water samples for bacteriological testing over the next few days. Additional areas will be re-opened as soon as possible based on the results of the laboratory analyses of those samples.
A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of these shellfish areas may be heard at (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures. If you would like a more detailed description of the closed areas please call the office during normal business hours at (631) 444-0475. Additionally, information about temporary closures is available on DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7765.html
Logo courtesy New York Department of Environmental Conservation