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DEC Rescinds Shellfish Closures in the Towns of Oyster Bay (Nassau County) and Huntington (Suffolk County)

Press Releases

Harvest of Shellfish, including Oysters, is Permitted

Long Island, NY - September 13th, 2013 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the harvesting of shellfish, including oysters, from the normally certified shellfish lands in Oyster Bay Harbor and Cold Spring Harbor is permitted, effective at sunrise, Saturday, September 14.

On June 29, approximately 4,800 acres of shellfish lands in Oyster Bay Harbor and Cold Spring Harbor on the north shore of Long Island were closed for the harvest of shellfish by DEC as a precautionary measure to protect public health. This closure was implemented following reports of shellfish-related illnesses that were associated with consumption of oysters and hard clams harvested from these areas. The illnesses were caused by the naturally-occurring, marine bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) as confirmed by the State Health Department.

DEC collected shellfish samples from the affected areas of Oyster Bay Harbor and Cold Spring Harbor on a weekly basis during the months of July through September for testing at DEC's East Setauket laboratory. DEC also received assistance with sample testing at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Based on these sample results, DEC partially rescinded the shellfish closure order to permit the harvest of certain types of shellfish in the normally certified areas of these harbors as follows:

  • West Harbor section of Oyster Bay Harbor, lying westerly of the Centre Island Peninsula; permitted for harvest of all shellfish on August 17
  • Cold Spring Harbor, easterly of Plum Point (Centre Island); permitted for harvest of all shellfish, except oysters, on August 24
  • Eastern section of Oyster Bay Harbor, easterly and southerly of the Centre Island Peninsula; permitted for harvest of all shellfish, except oysters, on September 7.

DEC has now rescinded the closure order that was effective on June 29 to once again, permit the harvest of all shellfish, including oysters, in all normally certified shellfish lands in Oyster Bay Harbor and Cold Spring Harbor, on September 14. The results of the tests showed that Vp was no longer present in shellfish, including oysters, at levels that are considered hazardous to human health.

To reduce the potential for growth of bacteria in shellfish after they are harvested and thereby minimize the risk of future illnesses, DEC reminds shellfish harvesters to use good post-harvest handling methods for controlling temperature, including:

  • Keeping shellfish shaded, out of direct sunlight
  • Keeping shellfish on ice or spraying with cool water from a certified area
  • Never putting shellfish in standing or stagnant water
  • Getting shellfish into refrigeration within 5 hours of the start of harvest.

Additionally, information about temporary shellfish closures is available through a recorded message at (631) 444-0480. That message is updated when changes are made to temporary closures. More information on temporary shellfish closures can also be found on DEC's website.

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