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Long Island Shellfish Closures Follow Record-Setting Rainfall

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rainThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that it has designated shellfish harvesting areas in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as temporarily closed to shellfishing. These temporary emergency closures are in response to the extraordinary volume of storm water runoff caused by the record amounts of rainfall that affected much of Long Island on Sunday, August 14.

The following areas have been designated as uncertified effective Monday, August 15, and the harvest of shellfish is temporarily prohibited through Monday August 22, 2011:

Town of Hempstead and Oyster Bay (south shore): All shellfish lands in Hempstead Bay and South Oyster Bay.

Town of North Hempstead: All of Hempstead Harbor.

Town of Oyster Bay (north shore): All of Oyster Bay Harbor and the southern portion of Cold Spring Harbor.

Towns of Babylon and Islip: All of Great South Bay lying west of the Robert Moses Causeway.

Town of Islip and Brookhaven (south shore): The northerly portion of Great South Bay, including the northerly portion of Nicoll Bay and Patchogue Bay north of the east-west buoy line; and, all of Bellport Bay, the Narrows and all of Moriches Bay.

Town of Huntington: All of Lloyd Harbor, Northport Bay, Centerport Harbor, Duck Island Harbor and the southern portions of Cold Spring Harbor and Huntington Bay.

Town of Smithtown: All of Stony Brook Harbor.

Town of Brookhaven (north shore): All of Stony Brook Harbor, Flax Pond, Port Jefferson Harbor and its tributaries and all of Mount Sinai Harbor.

Town of Riverhead: All of Flanders Bay, lying west of a line extending southwesterly from Miamogue Point to the northernmost point of Red Cedar Point.

Town of Southampton: All of Moriches Bay, all of Shinnecock Bay, all of Flanders Bay and the creeks, ponds, bays and harbors in the Town of Southampton lying between Red Cedar Point and North Haven Peninsula (including, Red Creek Pond, Squire Pond, Cold Spring Pond, the Sebonac Creeks, Wooley Pond, Fresh Pond, North Sea Harbor, Noyac Creek, Mill Pond); and, all of Sag Harbor.

This precautionary action was taken to protect public health following the exceptionally heavy rainfall event that affected Long Island. Rainfall was measured in excess of three inches in all the affected areas. Most areas had in excess of five inches; some areas reported more than 10 inches of rain on Sunday, August 14. Such extraordinary volumes of stormwater runoff carry bacteria and viruses into the creeks, coves, harbors and bays and may cause shellfish in the affected areas to be hazardous for use as food.

Additional rainfall is forecast for Long Island, particularly in Suffolk County and further closures may be announced on Tuesday, August 16 for the Towns of Southold, Shelter Island and East Hampton where rainfall totals as of Monday morning were not in excess of three inches.

DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of bacteriological analyses of water samples that will be collected this week. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of these shellfish areas may be heard at (631) 444-0480. For a more detailed description of the closed areas, contact DEC’s Office of Marine Resources during normal business hours at (631) 444-0475. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures.

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