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Southold revives defunct shellfish committee

Clammers have been drawn to the waters between

Clammers have been drawn to the waters between Oyster Bay and North Hempstead after the state Department of Environmental Conservation in June opened 2,500 acres of shellfish beds for the first time in 40 years. (Aug. 3, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

The Southold Town board is reviving its Shellfish Advisory Committee, which went defunct in the mid-90s, to help bring back into compliance more quickly areas which are off-limits for fishing due to water contamination.

The committee, which has seven members, will advise the town board on matters relating to water quality in town waters, particularly in areas where shellfish reside. The members also serve as liaisons to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Terms will be for two years. The town clerk will advertise for resumes for those interested in serving on the committee; positions would be unpaid.

The mission of the board, said Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, will be to represent the town in matters having to do with the sanitary certification and water quality testing of shellfish harvest areas.

“We need people with expertise and with a good relationship with the DEC,” Russell said.

He added that because the DEC is short-staffed, shellfish areas found to be too contaminated to fish in — which typically happens after a storm — often take too long to be returned to compliance because the DEC can’t get anyone to take the samples. Russell and the board say the advisory committee will take the samples to the DEC for faster turnarounds.

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