Temporary Closure Begins July 14; Expected to Reopen July 19
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the temporary closure of Three Mile Harbor in the town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, during the upcoming Clamshell Foundation's 2018 fireworks event. This closure is put in place during this popular event to protect public health from potentially contaminated shellfish associated with increased boating activity in shellfishing waters. Boaters are reminded to use pump-out facilities to help protect New York's waters.
"As a precautionary measure, DEC annually halts shellfishing in Three Mile Harbor during the Great Bonac Fireworks Show weekend because of the heavy increase in recreational boating during the event," said DEC Director of Marine Resources, James Gilmore. "We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and be aware of the no-discharge zones in Great Peconic Bay, Gardiners Bay, and local embayments like Three Mile Harbor, and to use pump-out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health."
Since 1993, DEC has temporarily closed Three Mile Harbor to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks and the four following days because of the increased potential for contamination of shellfish beds, if there were discharges of sewage from the large number of recreational boats that gather and stay overnight. Discharges from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering them unsafe for human consumption.
DEC will designate all of Three Mile Harbor, tributaries, and the inlet as uncertified, and no shellfish may be taken from Three Mile Harbor during this time. The area is located on the north shore, on the south fork of Long Island, and the following area will be closed to the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise, Saturday, July 14, 2018, and continuing through Wednesday, July 18, 2018.
- All the normally certified shellfish lands in Three Mile Harbor, including tributaries, located south of a line extending due east from the northern end of the western jetty at the inlet of Three Mile Harbor, to the northern end of the eastern jetty, on the eastern side of said inlet. This area of approximately 1,045 acres includes the entrance channel into said harbor.
Shellfish harvesting is expected to resume in this area on Thursday, July 19. If the event is canceled due to poor weather or rain and the event is postponed, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the area to harvesting earlier than July 19. The scheduled rain date is Sunday, July 15.
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.
Boaters should be aware that all of Three Mile Harbor is designated as a no-discharge zone. A no-discharge zone is a designated body of water where the discharge of treated or untreated boat sewage is prohibited. Boaters in these areas should utilize the following pump-out facilities:
- The Town of East Hampton Trustees will operate a pump out boat on the day of the event, up until 5 p.m. and will be available on Sunday, July 15. They can be reached using a marine radio, VHF channel 73.
- The Town Harbormaster's office at Gann Road has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no fee for the boater.
A full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found at EPA's website.