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State passes kelp bill that could pave way for commercial cultivation in 2 LI bays

Sugar kelp is harvested for testing in East

Sugar kelp is harvested for testing in East Moriches. The bill would allow the harvesting of sugar kelp, above, in Peconic and Gardiners bays on the East End.  Credit: Randee Daddona

The State Legislature on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow for the commercial cultivation of sugar kelp in two Eastern Long Island bays.

The bill, sponsored by Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), now goes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, "We'll review it.

The bill received widespread support based on kelp's ability to clean waterways and help oyster farmers expand their revenue base. The law would allow for cultivation on existing Suffolk County aquaculture leases in Peconic and Gardiners bays.

Kelp has been closely studied by Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which has shown unprecedented success in growing the ribbonlike seaweed in shallow waters of Moriches Bay.

"It’s a growing industry and we need to support it," Kaminsky said.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called the bill's passage a "big win."

It's "one more critical tool to fight nitrogen pollution and water degradation and help our shellfish fisheries," she said.

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