The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has rescinded temporary emergency shellfish closures that were implemented in response to the coastal flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.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. Many areas were reopened over the past two weeks based on the bacteriological examination of water samples.

DEC collected additional water samples in these areas last week. Testing of those samples showed that water quality in those areas was suitable for harvesting shellfish. The harvest of shellfish is permitted in the following areas:

  • Town of Babylon: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Great South Bay, including tributaries, lying east of a line extending southeasterly from the southernmost tip of Bergen Point (also known as Fleet Point) to the eastern side of Nezeras Island (lying east of Fox Creek Channel) and continuing southeast across the State Boat Channel to Jones Island at the eastern side of Cedar Beach Park.
  • Town of Islip: All the normally certified shellfish lands of Great South Bay, including tributaries.
  • Town of Brookhaven (south shore): All the normally certified shellfish lands of Great South Bay, including Nicoll Bay, Patchogue Bay, Bellport Bay and their tributaries.

However, several areas remain closed to the harvest of shellfish, through November 29, including: in the Town of East Hampton, all of Accabonac Harbor; In the Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay on the south shore, all of Hempstead Bay, East Bay and South Oyster Bay, and in the Town of Babylon, all that area of Great South Bay lying westerly of Bergen Point will remain closed for shellfish harvesting.

The closures were implemented and extended to protect the public health. The 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 from closed areas for bacteriological testing this week. 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

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