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Scallop Season Has Begun

How’s the Bay Scallop Harvest Been This Year?

If you cherish the sweet, juicy and delicious flavor of a Peconic Bay scallop, perhaps you’ve been anticipating the opening of scallop season this week. But will there be scallop dinners in abundance this year? Many of Long Island’s bays and harbors experienced harmful algal blooms this summer, including the longest and most intense brown tide bloom in recorded history.

All that water pollution means that shellfish like scallops and clams are struggling to survive in local waters. The occurrence of these events such as brown tide, have led to the collapse of critical marine habitats such as seagrass, major shell-fisheries on Long Island, and the coastal wetlands that help protect waterfront communities from the damaging impacts of storms. 

Unfortunately, a decline in shellfish isn’t the end of the problem. There’s a cascading effect because shellfish also filter the water and clean it while they feed. Left unchecked, the algae that shellfish eat start to bloom out of control.
Some algae produce toxins that accumulate in filter feeding shellfish which can poison people or wildlife that eat them. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) increasingly monitors and seasonally closes shellfish beds due to algae blooms. Long Island’s water pollution problems are unfortunately getting worse and more widespread.

The majority of Long Island’s income is from tourism, and if people can’t swim and play in the water, or partake in its bounty, we all lose a big part of our local economy.

What’s the fate of Long Island’s waters? Long Island’s waters need a break!

In locations where feasible, sewage treatment plants can be upgraded to remove more nitrogen. And everywhere, fertilizer and pesticide application can be significantly reduced – including starting with your own home.

New kinds of septic systems safely remove far more nitrogen from human waste than current septic systems and cesspools. They are proven to work around the country and around the world. It’s a matter of bringing that industry here and providing a funding source for people to upgrade to these treatment systems.

For East End residents in particular, the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) can help improve local waters that are threatened by nitrogen pollution by allowing up to 20% of revenue to be used to improve water quality. This could raise $700 million for local water quality improvement projects and will continue the Community Preservation Fund’s successful land protection work. So far, 3 of 5 of the East End towns are making progress toward allocating funding for this critical work.

You can Long Island’s water pollution problems by having your cesspool pumped every 2-3 years and by reducing the amount of fertilizer used on your lawn!

Before going shellfishing, it's imperative to check that areas are safe before harvesting. Visit the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.