Temporary Closure Begins July 15; Expected to Reopen July 20
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the temporary closure of Three Mile Harbor in the town of East Hampton, Suffolk County, during the upcoming Clamshell Foundation's 2017 fireworks event. The closure will begin at sunrise on Saturday, July 15, and continue through Wednesday, July 19. No shellfish may be taken from Three Mile Harbor during this time.
Since 1993, DEC has temporarily closed Three Mile Harbor to shellfishing on the day of the fireworks, as well as the following four days. DEC enacts the temporary closure 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 for this popular event. Discharges of material from marine sanitation devices (toilets) may contaminate nearby shellfish beds with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, rendering them unsafe for human consumption. Boaters are reminded to always use pump-out facilities to help protect New York's waters.
"As a precautionary measure, DEC annually prohibits shellfishing in these waters during the fireworks event because of the increased recreational boating activity," DEC Commissioner Seggos said. "We strongly encourage boaters to act responsibly and be aware of the no-discharge zones in Three Mile Harbor and to use pump-out facilities to prevent impacts to our natural resources and protect public health."
The annual event draws hundreds of boaters each year, including many that remain in the area overnight. Boaters are reminded that they are required to use pump out facilities in the Peconic-Gardiners Bay area, which includes Three Mile Harbor, because the area is a No-Discharge Zone. A No-Discharge Zone is a designated body of water where discharges of treated or untreated boat sewage are prohibited. The town of East Hampton Trustees operate a pump out boat which can be reached by using marine radio, VHF channel 73 or calling 631-353-9112. The Town Harbormaster's office at Gann Road has a self-serve facility. Both are available at no fee for the boater.
DEC will designate the following area as closed to the harvest of shellfish beginning at sunrise on Saturday, July 15 and continuing through Wednesday, July 19: all 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 the 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 20. If the event is canceled due to poor weather or rain and the event is postponed, DEC may rescind the closure and reopen the areas to harvesting earlier than July 20.
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 of Temporary Shellfish Closures, is available on DEC's website.
A full list of No Discharge Zones in New York State, including other Long Island waters, can be found at EPA's website.