Due the presence of marine biotoxins, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Health (DOH) issued a warning to consumers to avoid eating carnivorous gastropods (snails, such as whelks, conchs and moonsnails) and the hepatopancreas (tomalley) of blue claw crabs and lobsters harvested from the following areas: Western Shinnecock Bay (Town of Southampton) and Huntington Bay, Huntington Harbor, Lloyd Harbor, Northport Bay, Northport Harbor, Centerport Harbor and Duck Island Harbor (Town of Huntington).
The warning has been issued to protect public health following the detection of saxitoxin in shellfish in certain areas that DEC had previously designated as temporarily uncertified (closed) for the harvest of shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops).
On May 6, DEC designated western Shinnecock Bay (lying west of the Ponquogue Bridge, Hampton Bays, and east of Post Land Bridge, Quogue) as uncertified for commercial and recreational shellfishing. On May 12, DEC designated areas in Northport Bay, Centerport Harbor and Duck Island Harbor as uncertified for shellfishing. On May 18, the department expanded the shellfish closure to include Lloyd Harbor and Huntington Bay (south of a line from Lloyd Neck Point to Eatons Neck Point).
Saxitoxin is a potent neurotoxin, or nervous system poison, that at elevated levels is dangerous to human health. Saxitoxin is known to cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in humans, which affects the nervous system and can lead to muscles becoming paralyzed. In severe cases, paralytic shellfish poisoning can result in respiratory failure and death. Carnivorous gastropods prey on bivalve shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters and scallops) and can concentrate the marine biotoxins that bivalve shellfish take in through filter feeding.
The Department is also filing Emergency Regulations authorizing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens to close commercial and recreational carnivorous gastropod fisheries in areas that have been closed for saxitoxin. Commissioner Martens issued a closure order to suspend the harvest of carnivorous gastropods from the areas currently closed due to saxitoxin, specifically:
Town of Southampton: All that area of Shinnecock Bay, and its tributaries, lying westerly of the southbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge and easterly of the western (southbound) side of the Post Lane Bridge in Quogue.
Town of Huntington: All that area of Northport Bay; Centerport Harbor; Duck Island Harbor; Lloyd Harbor; Coast Guard Cove; and, Huntington Bay lying southerly of a line extending northeasterly from the northernmost point of land at Lloyd Point to the northernmost point of land at Eatons Neck Point.
For additional information please visit the DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/34113.html