DEC Announces Temporary Closure Of Three LI Shellfishing Areas

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced the temporary closure of three shellfishing areas on the north shore of Long Island during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday period. These closures are put in place during the busy holidays to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. Boaters are reminded to utilize pumpout facilities to help protect these waters.

“As a precautionary measure, DEC annually closes shellfishing in these waters during Fourth of July weekend because of the heavy increase in recreational boating,” Commissioner Martens said. “We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and to recognize and respect the no-discharge zones in Port Jefferson Harbor, Oyster Bay Harbor and the Sand Hole and to use pumpout facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health.”

Since 1995, DEC has designated these areas as temporarily uncertified for the harvest of shellfish during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. During peak holiday periods, discharges from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering the shellfish unsafe for human consumption. DEC will designate the following areas, all on the north shore of Long Island, as off limits for the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Saturday, July 2 through Thursday, July 7:

• 445 acres in a section of Oyster Bay, Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County

• 50 acres in the area known as the Sand Hole in the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County

• 243 acres in a section of Port Jefferson Harbor in Brookhaven, Suffolk County

Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in these areas on Friday, July 8. In cooperation with local bay constables, DEC plans to conduct observations of the three closed shellfishing areas and other overnight recreational anchoring areas to monitor the number of boats present. If poor weather causes fewer boaters to visit these areas, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier than July 8.

A recorded message advising the public of any shellfishing areas in New York State that are temporarily closed is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. The recorded message will also advise harvesters when such areas have reopened. Written descriptions and color-coded maps of these and other short duration shellfish closures are posted at on the DEC website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/35917.html .

Boaters should be aware that all of Oyster Bay Harbor, the Sand Hole and Port Jefferson Harbor are designated as no-discharge zones. A no-discharge zone is a designated body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in these areas should utilize the following pumpout facilities:

Oyster Bay Harbor (West Harbor):

One pump-out boat is operated by the Town of Oyster Bay at no fee to boaters. Contact the pump-out boat via marine radio VHF channel 9. In addition, the town provides two pumpout stations on floats near the Oyster Bay Marine Center and Waterfront Park and a land-based pumpout in the town marina at Theodore Roosevelt Park.

The Sand Hole (Lloyd Neck):

Although there are no facilities within the Sand Hole, boaters should contact Town of Oyster Bay pumpout boat as noted above. There also is a land-based pump-out facility at Powle’s Marine Center in Cold Spring Harbor. In addition, boaters traveling from Town of Huntington waters can request the services of the Town of Huntington pumpout boat (no fee) by calling on marine radio VHF channel 9. There is also a number of land based pumpout facilities at marinas in Northport Harbor and Huntington Harbor.

Port Jefferson Harbor:

The Town of Brookhaven operates a pumpout boat (no fee) in Port Jefferson Harbor. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays only. Boaters may contact the Town’s pumpout boat via marine radio VHF channel 73.

A full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/regulatory/vessel_sewage/vsdnozone.html#ny.