The East Hampton Town Trustees will grant a special permit to up to 10 residents to harvest soft-shell clams via a technique known as powering, or churning, between July 1 and Sept. 6 this year.
In response to requests from baymen, the seven trustees present at Monday’s meeting voted unanimously to modify the town code, as is their right, to allow permit holders to harvest soft-shell clams by directing an outboard motor’s propeller toward the bottomland to loosen the soil, exposing the clams. The town code otherwise prohibits both the taking of shellfish in any manner other than hand power and the taking of soft clams between May 1 and Aug. 31.
Three areas in Napeague Harbor will be open to harvesting soft clams by the technique, said Francis Bock, the trustees’ clerk: the southerly portion defined as the portion of the harbor below the low-tide line lying southwest of a line extending from the southeast corner of Crassen Boulevard to a point 75 yards west of the Art Barge; from a point starting 75 yards east of the Art Barge to a point 75 yards west of the westernmost house on Private Road, off Napeague Harbor Road, and along the edge of Eel Pond.
Two areas in Three Mile Harbor will also be open to special-permit holders: from a point just north of the third dock to the north of the Hand’s Creek launching ramp, and north to the point of land approximately 500 feet west of the access road between Sammy’s Beach Road and Three Mile Harbor, and from a point 500 feet south of the inlet to Hand’s Creek, south to the harbor access path extending from Duke Drive.
Permits will be issued on a first-come-first-served basis. Permittees will be allowed to take up to two bushels per day. The powering technique will be allowed on weekdays during daylight hours only.
Those interested can apply for a permit starting on June 27 at noon at the trustees’ office at the Lamb Building on Bluff Road in Amagansett. Applicants must bear a valid commercial shellfish harvesting license and sign an affidavit affirming that they have not been convicted of violating the town code’s chapter pertaining to shellfish in the year prior to their application.
John Aldred of the trustees discussed the baymen’s request with Barley Dunne, the director of the town’s shellfish hatchery, which led to the trustees’ action, Mr. Bock said.
“We’ll see how it goes this year,” he said, sounding less than optimistic. “We know there’s nothing along the edge of the shore. Barley believes that’s because the temperature is too high for them to survive in the shallower areas. In deeper water, he feels there is a possibility they could find some.”