Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week a $10.4 million effort to improve Long Island’s water quality and bolster the economies and resiliency of coastal communities by restoring native shellfish populations to coastal waters. To restore shellfish, New York State is establishing five new sanctuary sites in Suffolk and Nassau counties to transplant seeded clams and oysters and expanding public shellfish hatcheries in the two counties through a dedicated grant program.
“Protecting our natural assets is critically important for Long Island, and by restoring our shellfish populations and investing in the preservation of New York’s coastal communities, we will strengthen the regional economy, create new jobs, and ensure our waters are clean,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release. “We have one simple obligation – to leave this place better than we found it, and as we face the ongoing challenge of climate change, New York will continue to invest now to preserve the quality, resiliency and natural beauty of Long Island for generations to come.”
The shellfish sanctuary sites, including one located in Shinnecock Bay, will be seeded with up to 179 million locally-grown and harvested shellfish over the next two years, producing enough shellfish to filter the water at these sites every three days, according to Gov. Cuomo’s office. The sites will be managed by SUNY Stony Brook and Cornell Cooperative Extension, in partnership with municipalities and volunteer organizations.
The state will invest $3.15 million to obtain 28 million adult shellfish from local distributors and harvesters, and is investing $5.25 in Suffolk County Cornell Cooperative Extension to expand its existing public shellfish hatchery, and to plant shellfish at the sanctuary sites. A new $2 million grant program will build or expand public shellfish hatcheries on Long Island, with each grantee receiving up to $400,000. Discussions have already begun with East Hampton and Southampton towns as well as the Shinnecock Nation.
“Governor Cuomo is an unparalleled advocate for Long Island, and this investment is the latest proof of his commitment,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “This initiative will help create jobs, support economic growth, and ensure clean water for our communities. I look forward to working with Governor Cuomo to continue to invest in Long Island’s economy and environment.”