DEC Announces Temporary Shellfishing Closure of Three Mile Harbor for Fireworks Weekend

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Temporary Closure Begins July 18

Three Mile Harbor (red indicates uncertified area)Three Mile Harbor in the Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, will be temporarily closed to the harvesting of shellfish for the 2009 Three Mile Harbor Fireworks event weekend, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. Commissioner Pete Grannis said the closure is put in place annually during the busy festivities to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. Boaters are reminded to utilize pump out facilities to help protect these waters.

The closure will begin at sunrise on Saturday, July 18, 2009, and continue through Wednesday, July 22. No shellfish can be taken from Three Mile Harbor during this period and DEC expects to re-open the area for shellfishing on Thursday, July 23, 2009. In the event of rain, the fireworks will take place on Sunday, July 19.

During the past 16 years, Three Mile Harbor has been temporarily closed to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks event and for four days afterward. DEC enacted the temporary closure because of the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds if there were discharges of sewage from the large number of recreational boats that gather for the popular event. Discharges of fecal material from marine toilets may contaminate nearby shellfish, rendering the shellfish hazardous for human consumption.

The annual event draws hundreds of boaters each year, including many that stay overnight. Boaters are reminded that they are required to use pump out facilities in the Peconic-Gardiners Bay area, which includes Three Mile Harbor, because the area is a No-Discharge Zone. A No-Discharge Zone is a designated body of water where discharges of treated or untreated boat sewage are prohibited. The Town of East Hampton Trustees operates a pump out boat and the Town Harbormaster’s office at Gann Road has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no fee for the boater. The town’s pump out boat can be contacted using marine radio VHF channel 73.

A recorded telephone message advising the public of the status of this or any temporarily closed shellfish area may be heard 24 hours every day at (631) 444-0480. A message will also be provided at the East Hampton Town, Department of Natural Resources Office at (631) 324-6393. Information about rain dates, early re-openings or extensions of closures will be made available at these numbers.

Written descriptions and color-coded maps of these and other shellfish closures can be found on the DEC website.