DEC Temporarily Closes Areas in the Town of Southold, Suffolk County for the Harvest of Shellfish and Carnivorous Gastropods

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  15. May 2015

Southold, NY - May 14. 2015 - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) in James Creek in the Town of Southold has been temporarily closed, effective immediately on Thursday, May 14, 2015, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin. The closure is implemented to protect public health.

The closure impacts approximately 31 acres in the Town of Southold, covering all the underwater lands in James Creek, a tributary of Great Peconic Bay. All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in these lands is prohibited until further notice in an effort to protect public health. This is the first biotoxin closure implemented by DEC in James Creek.

On May 6, 2015, DEC also closed approximately 100 acres in the Town of Riverhead (underwater lands in Meetinghouse and Terry Creeks) and on May 7, 2015, closed approximately 3,900 acres in the Town of Southampton (underwater lands west of the Ponquogue Bridge and east of the Post Lane Bridge). All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in these lands is prohibited until further notice; shellfish harvesting in Meetinghouse and Terry Creeks is currently prohibited year-round and harvesting in James Creek is currently prohibited May 1 through November 30, each year.

This action was taken after DEC determined that shellfish collected from a monitoring site administered by Suffolk County in James Creek tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The sample was collected by DEC and tested in conjunction with its marine biotoxin monitoring program. Carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) feed on shellfish and may accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.

DEC will continue to monitor for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at monitoring locations around Long Island and implement closures as necessary to protect public health. DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted over the next few weeks. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporarily closed shellfish areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closure.

Additionally, maps of the affected areas and information about these temporary closures are available on DEC's website.

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