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Nov 4, 2009 9:31 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shellfish woes continue for DEC

Nov 4, 2009 9:31 AM

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor has once again asked Governor David Paterson to reinstate state workers who monitor shellfish beds on the East End.

This spring, at Mr. Thiele’s urging, the governor filled one of five vacant positions in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Shellfisheries Section, but Mr. Thiele said that he believes the department needs at least one and perhaps two more biologists in order to keep conditional shellfish beds open.

Conditional shellfish beds are open only when DEC biologists deem them safe. Northwest Creek and two portions of Accabonac Harbor in East Hampton have conditional shellfish beds, as do Fish Cove in North Sea Harbor and Payne’s Creek, off Sag Harbor Cove. All of those beds were closed last winter, and many experts on marine policies believe that unless the DEC provides more adequate staffing, the federal government may step in to prohibit people from collecting shellfish anywhere on the East End.

In a letter dated September 14, DEC Commissioner Alexander Grannis told Mr. Thiele that the Food and Drug Administration, which evaluates all states’ shellfish programs for compliance, is expected to begin its annual review of DEC’s growing area classification program on August 31. After the evaluation last year, FDA’s annual report accurately noted that staffing in the program was at the lowest level since 1986. FDA expressed concerns that “those staff reductions will jeopardize the unit’s capacity to meet the sanitary survey requirements ... and adequately protect public health.”

The state’s dire financial situation has led to a statewide hiring freeze that has left the DEC unable to fill positions when biologists retire or leave their jobs.

“Failure to fill two more of the vacancies beyond this autumn could have a significant impact on New York’s shellfish industry,” Mr. Grannis said in his letter.

“I have been contacted by municipalities and industry organizations pleading for the program to reopen,” Mr. Thiele wrote of the conditional shellfish beds in his letter to Governor Paterson in late September. “They have volunteered to do field work, collecting water samples, etc., to provide to the DEC for testing. ... Commissioner Grannis strongly feels that unless he is permitted to fill these department vacancies, the entire shellfish industry is in jeopardy.”

Mr. Thiele said he has not yet received a response from the governor.

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Local Baymans Associations should consider legal action against the DEC and either sue them or get an injunction prohibiting them from closing the shellfish beds.
Half of Moriches Bay was closed in the late 80's early 90's because of the BS excuse that they couldn't test the waters.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 15, 09 10:41 AM
The DEC won't allow any volunteers to do the work because they want 100% control . This is so WRONG !!!
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Oct 15, 09 10:44 AM
The taxpayers wnat to cut state employees. What did you all expect, that services you are used to getting would go on uninterupted?
By Walt (292), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 7:46 PM
Finally, an appropriate use of the money they will collect for the fishing license. The towns that sued to stop the implementation of the license should agree to implement it as long as money collected goes directly to DEC monitoring for the East End. More shellfish = more healthy creeks bays = more fish!
By edgwtr (8), Quogue on Oct 22, 09 11:30 AM
A US Fish & Wildlife report from 1997 said that Shinnecock Bay, "SHOULD BE [caps added] desigated a, 'no discharge' zone'", for sewage from recreational boating. Please, somebody tell me that boaters are not allowed to dump their ordure into Shinnecock Bay. Ditto Moriches Bay.

By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 24, 09 12:42 AM
3 members liked this comment
Fedral law is that all discharge vales be closed within 3 miles of shore. The trustees run pump out boats during the summer to off load sewage.
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 2, 09 11:51 AM
Since posting the above comment, The Southampton Press printed an article to the effect that, within the year, all the Long Island south shore estuaries will be declared no discharge zones and boats using them will have to show, on inspection, that it is impossible for them to discharge excrement overboard. Hallelujia!
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Nov 3, 09 4:02 PM