Basil Seggos, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, announced on Thursday that Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton would be temporarily closed to shellfishing from Saturday through Wednesday due to Saturday's Great Bonac Fireworks Show.
From sunrise on Saturday through Wednesday, all normally certified shellfish lands, including tributaries, located south of a line extending east from the western jetty at the inlet of the harbor to the eastern jetty will be closed to shellfishing.
The D.E.C. has closed the approximately 950-acre harbor to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks and for four days afterward since 1993 because of the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds in the event of sewage discharge from the hundreds of boats that anchor there, many of which and remain overnight. Like the entire Peconic-Gardiners Bay area, Three Mile Harbor is a no-discharge zone; boaters are required to use pump-out facilities. The town trustees operate a pump-out boat in Three Mile Harbor that can be reached using a marine radio, VHF channel 73. The town harbormaster's office at Gann Road also has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no cost.
"We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and be aware of the no-discharge zones in Three Mile Harbor and to use pump-out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health," Commissioner Seggos said.
Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume on Thursday. If the event is canceled or postponed due to weather, the D.E.C. may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier than Thursday.
A recorded message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State, and when such areas have reopened, is accessible 24 hours a day by calling 631-444-0480. Information including maps showing the affected areas is available on D.E.C.'s website, dec.ny.gov.