The potential for large amounts of sewage being discharged from boats during a planned fireworks show has caused the Town of East Hampton to announce the closure of Three Mile Harbor to shellfishing for a five-day period starting Saturday and running through Wednesday, officials said Friday.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation said that since 1993 officials have closed the harbor to shellfishing for the five-day period, beginning the day of the show, because of contamination concerns. The department “enacts the temporary closure because of the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds if there were discharges of sewage from the large number of recreational boats that gather and stay overnight for this popular event,” adding that discharges of fecal matter from marine sanitation “may contaminate nearby shellfish beds” with bacteria or viruses, rendering them unsafe to eat.
The ban window helps protect consumers, the DEC said, and provides a window for any potential contamination to be cleansed away through the natural filtration process.
In addition to the shellfishing ban, the DEC is reminding boaters that the area is a “No-Discharge Zone” — that is, a designated body of water where discharges of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited — but also that there are pump-out facilities in the Peconic Bay-Gardiners Bay area that they are required to use instead of making unauthorized discharges.
The prohibited shellfishing area includes Three Mile Harbor and its tributaries, as well as surrounding areas.
There is more information available at dec.ny.gov/outdoor/35917.html.
No-discharge zones for other Long Island waters are available at: epa.gov/vessels-marinas-and-ports/no-discharge-zones-ndzs-state#ny.