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Ban on shellfish harvesting in Suffolk

Crew of the fishing boat sort hundreds of

Crew of the fishing boat sort hundreds of fresh oysters pulled from the Long Island Sound. (Oct. 5, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

Shellfish harvesting has been shut down in nearly 2,000 acres of water property in three Suffolk towns as an emergency measure after officials found elevated levels of coliform bacteria during routine water testing.

The Department of Environmental Conservation closed shellfish harvesting on Wednesday. Most of the area is in Nicoll Bay, which is privately owned and not currently used for commercial or recreational shellfishing, according to the DEC.

The area encompasses the Connetquot River, Brickiln Creek and all tributary creeks and canals between Nicoll Point and Blue Point. The Nicoll Bay area, in Islip and Brookhaven towns, is owned by The Nature Conservancy and the former Blue Points Co.

Also closed for shellfish harvesting are about 2 acres off Cutchogue Harbor in New Suffolk.

Coliform bacteria comes from fecal matter and can cause illnesses in people who ingest shellfish contaminated by it, a DEC spokesman said.

The areas are closed until further notice. The closures only apply to a type of shellfish known as bivalve molluscan, such as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, and not to any other types of finfish or crustaceans such as crabs or lobsters, a DEC spokesman said.


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