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Huntington allows harvesting of more oysters

The Town of Huntington has introduced a pilot program that will double the amount of oysters that can be harvested in the summer.

Commercial shellfish permit holders can take up to 1,000 oysters a day through Aug. 31.

"The bayman have been telling us we're plentiful with oysters," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "So we worked with them and came up with this pilot program."

Last month, the town held a public hearing to amend town code to increase the daily allowable harvest of oysters from May 15 to Aug. 31 to 1,000 a day from 500. The change aimed to help Huntington's baymen maintain a better year-round presence in the marketplace.

The board approved the measure 5 to 0 at last week's town board meeting.

Harvesting of oysters and clams is allowed anywhere in town waters as long as the state Department of Environmental Conservation certifies the area.

But not everyone in the community was in support.

"I would have preferred that it stay at 500 pieces," said Race Burgess, 61, a bayman for 45 years from East Northport. "I don't want to have them [oysters] harvested all summer and have nothing left for the winter."

Petrone said the town has had an oyster seeding program for at least 10 years and that many baymen have told town officials that oysters are plentiful.

"If you have the harvest, you really want to . . . take the oysters out; that's what they're there for," Petrone said. "It's also an economic stimulus . . . ."

The town Maritime Service department and Cornell University Cooperative Extension plan to conduct a follow-up oyster population survey in March.

In May, the board designated Duck Island Harbor and Lloyd Harbor as shellfish management areas and prohibited the use of sail dredging to harvest oysters.

A shellfish management area is any area or sanctuary set aside by town officials to prevent overharvesting. Sail dredging for oysters is permitted in any other place in town waters that is certified.

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