A Suffolk County plan to lease part of Peconic Bay to private shellfish farmers should put another 300 acres under private control between 2015 and 2019, according to the county’s office of Economic Development and Planning.
That’s not a lot, considering there is the potential to lease almost 30,000 acres of productive underwater bay land, but it’s a reasonable space, according to Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who helped organize a forum last week in Riverhead on the leasing program.
“You have to look at all the other uses in the bay,” Krupski said. “There’s commercial fishing and recreational fishing and boating, people sailing. ... There’s a lot to consider.”
The county also has to be sure that any land it leases is not in conflict with private leasing, some of which goes back to the late 1800s, Krupski added.
About 120 acres of bay bottom is already under lease. When the county leases a 10-acre parcel, another 10 acres around it is set aside for a buffer zone.
“It’s a labor-intensive job,” Krupski said. “They have to keep pulling up their equipment and cleaning it to make sure the shellfish get the food they need to grow.”