After More Than 40 Years, Hempstead Harbor Reopens Shellfish Areas
Long Island Sound Study - News

Stony Brook, NY, June 16, 2011 - Citing the positive results of sanitary surveys, water quality monitoring and shellfish tissue testing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), on June 1, reopened approximately 2,500 acres of shellfish beds for shellfish harvesting in outer Hempstead Harbor and Long Island Sound. This marks the first time that shellfish can be legally harvested in the harbor in over 40 years.

In 2008, as part of the effort to restore the harbor for shellfish harvesting, Long Island Sound Study (LISS) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided funding through the Sound Futures Fund for a comprehensive underwater environment survey, and tested the viability and subsequent broadcast seeding of 1.1 million juvenile shellfish that will one day be harvested.

"The reopening of these shellfish beds is a true testament of what dedicated stakeholders can achieve," said Larissa Graham, NYSG’s Long Island Sound Study Outreach Coordinator. "Many community-based groups made this happen by monitoring water quality, restoring habitats, and lobbying for funding. It serves as a great example for other communities around the Sound and, perhaps, the Nation."

Given the fact that the standards for opening shellfish areas are very strict and require years of consistent results before waters can be certified, this is perhaps the strongest sign yet that years of efforts by citizen groups, residents and local governments to improve the water quality in Hempstead Harbor are paying off. For more on the process leading up to the re-opening of these shellfish areas, see Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee' recent press release (pdf).

The map and additional information for the reopening of Hempstead Harbor is available in the shellfishing section of the NYSDEC Web site (click here).

The Long Island Sound Study, conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect Long Island Sound and its ecosystems. Long Island Sound is one of 28 nationally-designated estuaries under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program, established by Congress in 1987 to improve the quality of Long Island Sound and other places where rivers meet the sea.

If you would like to receive Long Island Sound Study's newsletter, please visit their homepage and sign up for the "print newsletter" under the "Stay Connected" box.

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New York Sea Grant, now in its 40th year, is a statewide network of integrated research, education, and extension services promoting the coastal economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness about the State's marine and Great Lakes resources. One of 32 university-based programs under the NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, NYSG is a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University.

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State officials reopen Hempstead Harbor to shellfishing
News12 Long Island

Hempstead, NY, June 1, 2011 - After more than 40 years, state officials reopened the Hempstead Harbor waterway to shellfishing today.

Shellfishing had been banned for decades because of water quality that was considered too polluted for clamming.

Many bay men, who usually work out of Huntington or Oyster Bay, say they took advantage of Opening Day, reporting that the catch was good at clamming beds in a portion of the harbor.

The reopening was also a cause for celebration for the non-profit environmental group Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, which was formed in the 1980s to clean up and preserve the waterway.

Clams in Hempstead Harbor
Cablevision Editorials: Long Island Edition

Hempstead, NY, June 14, 2011 - Hempstead Harbor was so polluted that for forty years the state closed its waters to clammers.

Last week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reopened much of the harbor to clamming, marking a victory for a coalition of local governments who cleaned up a harbor that was considered an environmental disaster in the 1970s.

As Carol DiPaolo from Save Hempstead Harbor recalls: “This is the 25th year that the coalition has been in existence and to be able to see this milestone with the recertification of the shellfish beds in Hempstead Harbor is just so wonderful that they coincided.”

The restoration of shellfish beds also marked a victory in the joint federal and state effort to save Long Island Sound. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to upgrade sewage treatment plants, treat storm water runoff and restore marine habitat.

Another milestone could be reached this summer. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that all the waters in Long Island Sound be designated a no discharge zone. When the rule is finally adopted, New York boaters will have to use pump-out facilities for waste disposal.

And there’s more good news about shellfish: hard clam catches have tripled in the past decade, and more acreage has been opened to clamming, especially in Hempstead Harbor–all good signs.

Besides, clams can actually clean up waters in our bays, as each clam can process up to 50 gallons a day of water, filtering out impurities. In fact, the Long Island Sound Study is funding research to determine whether clams can be used strategically to improve water quality in waters off Bridgeport.

But the best way to celebrate the return of clams is to savor them raw, on the half shell. Including those dug in Hempstead Harbor.

The Long Island Sound Study works with federal, state, and local partners to restore and protect Long Island Sound.

Also, the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee is considered a central clearinghouse for all kinds of information relating to Hempstead Harbor.

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