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Some Hempstead shellfishing areas reopened

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

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has partially rescinded the closure of shellfishing areas in the Town of Hempstead — reopening Wednesday about 1,500 acres of shellfish lands east of the Wantagh State Parkway, officials said.

These areas were initially closed on April 1 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined that water quality data provided to the DEC by the town’s water testing laboratory had a “significant number of deficiencies.” The state had cited problems with lab equipment and clerical errors.

The decision to reopen the shellfish lands was based on “extensive testing” of water samples collected from South Oyster Bay, DEC officials said in a statement.

The DEC had previously closed 7,100 acres of shellfish lands in Hempstead Bay, west of the parkway, on Feb. 17 following a similar determination. That area remains closed for clam, oyster and mussel harvesting until further notice for public health reasons, DEC officials said.

The FDA had advised the DEC that failure to close the areas promptly could prevent the sale of all state shellfish products in interstate commerce, DEC officials said.

The DEC is working with the town to collect water samples from Hempstead Bay for testing in DEC’s microbiology laboratory to determine which sections may be reopened to shellfishing, DEC officials said.

For more information on temporary emergency shellfish closures, call 631-444-0480.

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