The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has downgraded the shellfishing safety designations for small portions of several East End bays as a result of poor water quality tests.
In East Hampton, 15 acres of Hands Creek and 14 acres of Accabonac were declared suitable for shellfish harvesting only in the cold winter months.
In Southampton, 10 acres of Cold Spring Pond and 15 acres of western Shinnecock Bay were also declared “seasonal” shellfish zones because of poor water quality in the warm months.
The downgrades were made because state water sampling done in those areas revealed levels of coliform bacteria, bacteria usually associated with human and animal waste, above recommended safety levels for consumption of shellfish.
“It’s not good when they do this, but these are pretty small areas,” said Jon Semlear, a Southampton Town Trustee and bayman from Sag Harbor. “This isn’t indicative of a major problem, I don’t think.”
Seasonal shellfishing areas are only open for shellfish harvesting from November 30 until May 1.
All of Hands Creek, a small tributary off Three Mile Harbor, was declared seasonal, as was the northern portion of Accabonac Harbor.
In Cold Spring Pond, the seasonal closure is noted with orange markers on the shoreline closest to Shrubland Road. The Shinnecock Bay seasonal closure will be for the portion of bay lying just outside the entrance to Dave’s Creek in East Quogue.