The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced on Thursday that harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods—whelks, conchs, moon snails—in certain areas in the Town of Southampton has been temporarily closed, effective at sunrise on Friday, May 10, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin. The closure was implemented to protect public health, according to a statement released by the DEC.
The closure impacts approximately 490 acres, covering all the underwater lands in Sag Harbor Cove and Upper Sag Harbor Cove and their tributaries lying westerly of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge (Route 114 Bridge).
All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in those lands is prohibited until further notice in an effort to protect public health. Maps showing the affected areas will be available on DEC’s website, at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7765.html.
The action was taken after the DEC determined that shellfish collected from monitoring sites in Sag Harbor Cove tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The samples were tested as part of DEC’s marine biotoxin monitoring program. Carnivorous gastropods feed on shellfish and may accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.
The DEC will continue to monitor for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at 18 monitoring locations around Long Island and implement closures as necessary to protect public health.
The 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 shellfish areas may be heard by calling 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closure.