New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the temporary closure of shellfish harvesting for Three Mile Harbor in the town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, during the upcoming Clamshell Foundation and EHP Resort and Marina Fireworks event. The closure will begin at sunrise on Saturday, July 16, and continue through Wednesday, July 20. During this time, no shellfish may be taken from Three Mile Harbor.
“As a precautionary measure, DEC annually prohibits shellfishing in these waters during the fireworks event because of increased recreational boating activity,” Commissioner Seggos said. “We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and be aware of the no-discharge zones in Three Mile Harbor and to use pump-out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health.”
Since 1993, DEC has closed Three Mile Harbor to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks, as well as the following four days. DEC enacts the temporary closure due to the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds from the large number of recreational boats that gather for this popular event. Potential discharges of waste from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may temporarily contaminate nearby shellfish beds, rendering them unsafe for human consumption.
The annual event draws hundreds of boaters each year, including many that remain in the area overnight. Boaters are reminded that they are required to use pump out facilities in the Peconic-Gardiners Bay area, which includes Three Mile Harbor, because the area is a No-Discharge Zone. A No-Discharge Zone is a body of water designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where discharges of treated or untreated boat sewage are prohibited. The Town of East Hampton Trustees operate a pump out boat that can be reached by using marine radio, VHF Channel 73, or calling 631-644-7162. The Town Harbormaster’s office at Gann Road has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no fee for boaters.
DEC will designate the following area as closed to the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Saturday, July 16, and continuing through Wednesday, July 20: all the normally certified shellfish lands in Three Mile Harbor, including tributaries, located south of a line extending due east from the northern end of the western jetty at the inlet of Three Mile Harbor, to the northern end of the eastern jetty, on the eastern side of the inlet. This area of approximately 935 acres includes the entrance channel into the harbor.
Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in this area on Thursday, July 21. If the event is canceled or postponed due to inclement weather, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier than July 21.
A recorded message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. The recorded message also advises harvesters when such areas have reopened. Information, including maps showing the affected areas, is available on DEC’s website.
A full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found on the U.S. EPA’s website.