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Officials close LI shellfish harvest areas due to bacteria levels

State officials said Thursday they would close 52 acres of shellfish harvest areas in Suffolk, citing elevated bacteria levels that can make shellfish unsafe to consume. New seasonal limits were also imposed on 2,155 acres off Hempstead, East Hampton and Southold, where harvesting will only be allowed at certain times.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation said the changes followed tests that showed water there had elevated levels of coliform and fecal bacteria that correspond with an increased risk of illness for people who eat shellfish. The new rules take effect immediately and may be updated as changes in water quality warrant, the agency said.

The biggest affected area is a 2,043-acre band of shellfish beds in the middle of East Bay between the Meadowbrook and Wantagh parkways, which will now be open only seasonally. Just three years ago, the DEC had declared those beds safe for year-round harvesting.

>> Read Jennifer Smith's full story

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