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Islip Town awards 13 shellfish farming leases
The Town of Islip Tuesday awarded 13 new bay bottom leases through a lottery at Islip Beach — an effort to ramp up the oyster and clam populations in the Great South Bay, add to the town’s coffers and provide a boost to local business.
The new leases will allow shellfish farming on about 95 acres of the Great South Bay — which officials say will have positive environmental effects — while providing about $78,000 in revenue to the town, officials said.
“It’s great for the bay,” said Councilman John Cochrane, who spearheaded the initiative.
Cochrane first floated the idea in 2010, but faced delays at the state level. The town was granted permission in April to begin leasing 95 acres of the bay bottom, he said.
The influx of revenue comes as the town board considers approval of a pending $118 million operating budget, which calls for a 65 percent property tax increase in order to close a $26 million deficit.
Seventeen people jockeyed for one of the 13 parcels, which are each between one and five acres and lease at the rate of $750 per acre, officials said.
Doug Winter, owner of Blue Point Long Island Oyster, was the first to receive a license from the town. At Tuesday’s lottery, his sister was awarded a lease for another 5 acres, allowing for the business to expand.
So far, Winter said, he’s harvested several thousand oysters and has begun selling his wares to “high-end” restaurants.
“We have chefs come out and say they’re the best oysters they’ve ever had,” said Winter, of West Islip.