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DEC: Shellfishing Temporarily Banned in Local Harbors

Storm water runoff from rain causes high bacterial count, making shellfish unsafe for consumption.

The New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) announced on Monday that the harvesting of shellfish in Flax Pond and Port Jefferson, Stony Brook and Mount Sinai Harbors has been temporarily suspended due to the stormwater runoff from the recent rainfall.

These areas are among specific areas on Long Island that have been “uncertified effective Monday, Aug. 15, and the harvest of shellfish is temporarily prohibited through Monday, Aug. 22” by the DEC.

The reason for the ban given by the DEC is that “extraordinary volumes of stormwater runoff carries bacteria and viruses into the creeks, coves, harbors and bays and may cause shellfish in the affected areas to be hazardous for use as food.”

In an who has been diving in Port Jefferson for many years, he said that the old adage of harvesting oysters in months with an "r" in them (September to April) is true. Following that rule of thumb, August turns out not to be a big month for oyster diving so that industry, at least, is safe.

In fact, , according to Dave Johnson, who runs Coastal Steward, a nonprofit dedicated to .

Oysters naturally clean the water, filtering out many of the pollutants that end up there from our communities like lawn products and animal waste.

“Oysters are more efficient than anything man can do to filter water,” said Johnson.

After reanalyzing the area for bacterial levels this week the DEC will decide when to re-open the areas for shellfishing.

For a more detailed description of the closed areas, contact DEC's Office of Marine Resources during normal business hours at (631) 444-0475. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures.

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