D.E.C. Closes Some East Hampton Waters to Shellfishing

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has reclassified 24 acres in Northwest Harbor in East Hampton and the Devon Yacht Club boat basin in Amagansett as uncertified year round, meaning the waterways are closed to shellfishing.

The D.E.C. took the action due to water quality surveys showing elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria that do not meet the state's bacteriological standards for certified, or open, shellfish harvesting areas.

A D.E.C. spokesman said in an email that stormwater runoff and waste from wildlife are considered major contributing factors to increases in fecal coliform levels, and that areas that do not meet the certification standard must be closed to harvesting to protect public health. The water quality data is collected as part of the D.E.C.'s routine monitoring program for certification of shellfish lands for harvest.

The changes, which took effect as of the D.E.C.'s May 2 announcement, were part of a larger action in Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

Under the new restrictions, a 300-yard radius from the mouth of Alewife Pond in Northwest Harbor is now closed to shellfishing 12 months a year; previously the off-limited area had been smaller. The Devon boat basin had previously been classified as open from Oct. 15 to May 15 each year.

A seasonal closure period covering three acres in Cold Spring Pond in Southampton was extended by 60 days; 98 acres in West Creek, a tributary of Great Peconic Bay in the Town of Southold, are now closed year round; 44 acres in Orient Harbor and Oyster Ponds, also in Southold, will be closed from May 15 through Oct. 31 annually; 1,100 acres in Hempstead Bay were designated uncertified from Nov. 1 through April 30 annually, and eight acres in outer Hempstead Harbor were designated uncertified year round. 

The D.E.C. also moved to reopen a total of 1,168 acres to shellfishing in Southold and Hempstead. In Southold, 28 seasonally closed acres in Hallock Bay/Little Bay are now opened year round; 171 acres in Goose, Town, and Jockey Creeks, tributaries of Southold Bay, will have their current seasonally open periods extended by 46 days; 83 acres in Richmond Creek, a tributary of Little Peconic Bay, will have its seasonally open period extended by 30 days; 36 previously closed acres in Cutchogue Harbor will be open from Nov. 1 though May 14 annually, and 850 previously closed acres in Hempstead Bay are now open for harvest from May 1 through Oct. 31 annually. 

These areas were reopened or their certified periods extended after having been found to meet the D.E.C.'s standards for certified areas. 

Detailed descriptions of the new landmarks and boundaries for the newly closed and reopened areas, including the new dates of the seasonal closures, are available from the D.E.C. by calling 631-444-0492 and are posted on its website.