NYDEC Announces Temporary Closure of Three Shellfishing Areas

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North Shore Areas To Be Closed Over Fourth of July Holiday, Expected to Reopen July 10

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the temporary closure of three shellfishing areas on the north shore of Long Island during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. These closures are put in place annually during the busy holiday to protect public health from potential contamination of shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. He also reminded boaters to utilize pump out facilities to help protect these waters.

“Due to the large increase in recreational boaters during the Fourth of July holiday, DEC has taken precautionary measures and closed some of the most heavily traveled waters to protect public health,” Commissioner Grannis. “We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and adhere to the no discharge zone in Port Jefferson Harbor and to use pump out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect the health of the public.”

DEC will designate the following areas as temporarily uncertified for the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Friday, July 4, which means that shellfish harvesting is prohibited until DEC reopens them for harvest. All three areas are located on the north shore of Long Island. The closed sections include:

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

Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in the above areas on Thursday, July 10.

In cooperation with local bay constables and the State Police Aviation Unit, 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 the areas, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier than July 10.

Since 1995, DEC has designated these areas as temporarily uncertified for the harvest of shellfish during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays because of the increased potential for contamination of shellfish lands by the discharge of sewage from recreational boats during this peak summer holiday period. Discharges from a marine sanitation device (toilet) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering the shellfish unsafe for human consumption.

Boaters should be aware that Port Jefferson Harbor is designated a no-discharge zone. A no-discharge area is a designated body of water where discharge of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in this harbor and the other two restricted areas should utilize the following pump out 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 pump out stations on floats near the Oyster Bay Marine Center and Waterfront Park and a land-based pump out in the Town marina at Theodore Roosevelt Park.

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

Port Jefferson Harbor:
The Town of Brookhaven operates a pump out boat (no fee) in Port Jefferson Harbor. Boaters may contact the pump out boat via marine radio VHF channel 73. In addition, there is a land-based pump out station at the Town of Brookhaven’s Port Jefferson marina (no fee).

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 can be found on the DEC website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/35917.html