The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday closed some shellfish harvesting areas in the Town of Southampton to shellfishing. The temporary emergency closures are in response to stormwater runoff associated with the heavy rainfall on Monday and Tuesday.
The following areas in the town have been designated as uncertified effective Tuesday, and the harvest of shellfish is temporarily prohibited through next Tuesday, December 18: All of Sag Harbor, and its tributaries, including Upper Sag Harbor Cove, lying westerly of the northbound lanes of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge (Route 114) to North Haven; and, all of Cold Spring Pond; Sebonac Creek; Wooley Pond; North Sea Harbor; Noyac Creek; Mill Creek and Shinnecock Bay, lying easterly of the northbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge.
The precautionary action was taken to protect public health following the localized but intense rainfall on Monday afternoon, according to the DEC. Extraordinary volumes of stormwater runoff carry 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. Rainfall was measured in excess of three inches in the affected area.
The DEC will reopen the area as soon as possible based on the results of bacteriological analyses of water samples. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of shellfish areas may be heard at 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures. For more detailed descriptions of the closed area, the public may call the Bureau of Marine Resources office during regular business hours at 444-0475, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.