Precautionary Closure Due to High Counts of Potentially Toxic Plankton
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced a temporary ban on the harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in the Old Fort Pond portion of Shinnecock Bay in the town of Southampton, Suffolk County. The temporary closure is effective immediately, July 11, 2019.
The closure is due to the detection of high counts of marine biotoxin-producing plankton and is being implemented to protect public health. Filter-feeding shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops) feed on plankton and can accumulate marine biotoxins that cause illness to shellfish consumers. Carnivorous gastropods (whelks, conchs, moon snails) feed on shellfish and may also accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.
Approximately 82 acres in the following area is affected:
Shinnecock Bay: All the area of Old Fort Pond and tributaries lying northerly of a line extending easterly from the southernmost point of land on Little Neck Point to the southernmost point of Little Beach Road.
This action was taken after DEC was notified that high counts, over 56,000 cells/L, of potential toxin-producing algae (Dinophysis) were found in the northern end of Old Fort Pond. Dinophysis cells produce Okadaic Acid, a marine biotoxin that causes Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning. Shellfish can begin to accumulate toxins at cell count levels above 10,000 cells/L. DEC is monitoring the pond and checking for the presence of this algae at nearby locations to determine the extent of this algae bloom.
DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporarily closed shellfishing areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures.
A recorded message advising the public about temporary closures of any shellfishing areas in New York State is accessible 24 hours a day by calling (631) 444-0480. The recorded message also advises harvesters when such areas have reopened. Information, including maps showing the affected areas, is available on DEC's website.