A Model for Success - 27 East

A Model for Success

Editorial Board on Sep 12, 2022

Once environmental damage is done, it is exceedingly difficult to undo — but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try, or that our efforts won’t succeed beyond expectations.

Case in point, the rebound of the hard clam population in Shinnecock Bay. It is amazing what’s been accomplished — a 1,700 percent increase in the landings and densities of hard clams, the expansion of seagrass meadows, the end of brown tide — in a relatively short amount of time.

The successful endeavor by scientists from the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences took a decade, a time frame that feels quite short when looking back now.

Now that we know the difference that can be made in only 10 years, initiatives to seed shellfish and eelgrass in beleaguered bays will be an easier sell nationally. Such projects are no longer experiments but proven methods to reverse damage to incomparable natural resources.

University officials noted that Shinnecock Bay was “seemingly irrecoverable” a decade ago. Today, the turnaround of a bay where the clam population had previously collapsed by 99.5 percent can’t be celebrated enough and will undoubtedly serve as not only a model for success but also as an inspiration. In fact, over the summer the international organization Mission Blue named Shinnecock Bay a “Hope Spot.”

Environmental degradation on the East End is at the point where conservation no longer goes far enough. On land and sea, refraining from destroying, polluting and overharvesting is just a starting off point. It will take an active hand to reseed the marine life and other fauna and flora that once flourished here. But, as seen in Shinnecock Bay, there is real reason for hope.