DEC Announces Closure of Mattituck and James Creeks to Harvest Carnivorous Gastropods Due to Evidence of a Marine Biotoxin in Shellfish
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that western Shinnecock Bay (town of Southampton) is now reopened for the harvest of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods.
DEC closed the area on May 4, 2017, to protect public health after detecting elevated levels of a marine biotoxin (saxitoxin) in shellfish in the western part of the bay. Saxitoxin can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in shellfish consumers.
Effective at sunrise on Friday, June 2, the normally certified shellfishing areas lying west of the Ponquogue Bridge and east of the Post Lane bridge reopened. DEC has tested shellfish from monitoring sites in Shinnecock Bay on a weekly basis since the area was closed to harvests. The last three samples had low to undetectable levels of saxitoxin, which allowed DEC to reopen the area.
However, effective immediately, DEC has closed all of Mattituck Creek (town of Southold) to the harvest of carnivorous gastropods (e.g. whelk, conch, moonsnails) after finding high levels of marine biotoxin in mussels at DEC's monitoring site in the creek. Carnivorous gastropods feed on shellfish and can accumulate saxitoxin to levels that can potentially cause illness in consumers.
On May 18, in the town of Southold, DEC closed all of James Creek to the harvest of carnivorous gastropods. Both Mattituck and James creeks are closed to the harvest of shellfish at this time of the year for other water quality reasons.
DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted over the next few weeks. 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.
Maps of the affected areas and information about these temporary closures are available on DEC's website. Information about marine biotoxins and paralytic shellfish poisoning is also available on DEC's website.