New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the annual temporary closure of three shellfishing areas on the North Shore of Long Island during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday period.
These closures are imposed during busy holidays to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters.
Since 1995, DEC has designated these areas as temporarily uncertified for the harvest of shellfish during the Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays. During peak holiday periods, discharges from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering the shellfish unsafe for human consumption.
DEC will designate the following areas, all on the North Shore of Long Island, as closed to the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Friday, July 3, and continuing through Wednesday, July 8:
- 445 acres in a section of Oyster Bay Harbor, town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County
- 347 acres in northern Port Jefferson Harbor, town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County
- 50 acres in the area known as the Sand Hole, town of Huntington, Suffolk County
Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in these areas on Thursday, July 9. If poor weather causes fewer boaters to visit these areas, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier.
A recorded message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. The recorded message also advises harvesters when such areas have reopened. Information, including maps showing the affected areas, is available on DEC’s website.
New York State is encouraging boaters to engage in responsible recreation during the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. The particular practice of “rafting” where multiple vessels tie up with each other should be avoided since this can increase the chance of disease transmission. DEC recommendations incorporate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases and encourage New Yorkers to recreate locally, practice physical distancing, show respect, and use common sense to protect themselves and others. For more information about engaging in responsible recreation this summer, visit DEC’s website.
Boaters should be aware that Oyster Bay Harbor, the Sand Hole, and Port Jefferson Harbor are designated as no-discharge zones in their entirety. A no-discharge zone is a designated body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in these areas should utilize the pump-out facilities listed below:
Oyster Bay Harbor (West Harbor): One pump-out boat is operated by the town of Oyster Bay at no cost to boaters. Hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm on weekends. Contact the pump-out boat via marine radio VHF channel 9 or by cell phone at (516) 375-9864. 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 (Lloyd Neck): Although there are no facilities within the Sand Hole, boaters should contact the town of Oyster Bay pump-out boat as noted above. There also is a land-based pump-out facility at Powle’s Marine Center in Cold Spring Harbor. In addition, boaters traveling from town of Huntington waters can request the services of the town’s pump-out boat (no fee) by calling on marine radio VHF channel 9. There are also a number of land-based pump-out facilities at marinas in Northport Harbor and Huntington Harbor.
Port Jefferson Harbor: The town of Brookhaven operates a pump-out boat (no fee) in Port Jefferson Harbor. Hours of operation are 9 am to 5 pm. Boaters may contact the town’s pump-out boat via marine radio VHF channel 73. In addition, the town provides a pump out station on its transient dock, east of the boat launch ramp, west of the charter fishing vessels.
A full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
Illustrations from above: West Harbor, Port Jefferson Harbor, and The Sand Hole temporary shellfish closures provided by DEC.