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Brookhaven board OKs $400G bond for shellfish hatchery

The Brookhaven Town Board unanimously adopted a $400,000 bond resolution last week as an insurance policy in case a state grant for an expansion at the Mount Sinai Mariculture hatchery falls through.

The move will ensure the hatchery, at Cedar Beach, will produce 1 million additional shellfish over the next two years.

“We got a grant to expand the production on shellfish,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner, who sponsored the resolution at the June 14 meeting. “It’s just security to make sure all the improvements are covered. Sometimes the grants take longer than we anticipate to come in.”

She said the bond, which passed on a 7-0 vote, will not be used if the grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation arrives on schedule. It isn’t clear when the grant is expected.

In any given year, the hatchery places about 3 million oysters and clam seeds in the Mount Sinai and Port Jefferson harbors, Great South Bay and other bodies of water, which help purify the water.

“Whatever we do to increase production is a win-win because they filter the water,” Bonner said.

Oysters and clams spend the winter in bays, protected by cages while their shells harden. In the spring, the seeds have developed enough to potentially fend off predators, such as crabs. About 75 percent of seeds survive into adulthood.

Brookhaven has 2 million seed oysters, 1 million seed clams and 70,000 seed scallops at the hatchery, town officials said.

“We’re looking to increase those numbers and in some cases keep them longer so that they are more mature when we release them into the water,” said Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine.

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