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Long IslandTowns

Venditto to meet with baymen on easing shellfishing rules

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto Tuesday offered to meet with North Shore baymen after a group of them asked the town board to loosen shellfishing rules.

More than a dozen members of North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association attended the board meeting. Their spokesman, Joe Finke of Bayville, said the fishermen would like the town to increase the daily maximum limit for oysters from the current three bushels.

They also asked the town to allow them to use smooth-edged scallop dredges like other towns so their boats could be propelled by improvised sails rather than just raking oysters by hand.

And they asked to be allowed to use powered winches to raise their rakes in deep water as in the case in other towns.

Hal Mayer, the town's environmental consultant, told the board that the requests seemed reasonable so Venditto suggested a meeting between officials and the baymen.

There is ongoing litigation among the baymen, the town and the Frank M. Flower & Sons shellfishing company -- which holds an exclusive town lease for deeper waters in the middle of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor -- over the terms and enforcement of the lease provisions. Venditto and the baymen met last year to try to resolve the issues but there were no major breakthroughs.

Finke told the board that the natural "set" or population of young oysters was increasing in shallow waters of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor, but the current limit of three bushels per baymen per day was inadequate to make a living. He said the baymen are paid 25 cents per oyster and a bushel holds about 100 oysters. So the most they can make is $75 per day.

"We can't pay our taxes . . . on $75 a day with a three-bushel limit," Finke said.

Finke said scallop dredges, because they have no teeth on their edge, would not damage the bay bottom.

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