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Prospective Shellfish Farmers Take Note

Thu, 01/20/2022 - 09:46

The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning will hold an informational meeting for prospective applicants interested in applying for a lease under the county’s Shellfish Aquaculture Lease Program in Peconic Bay and Gardiner’s Bay on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m.

The meeting will be conducted via Zoom, with participants able to listen in or join. Registration for the meeting is required at Questions can be directed to Susan Filipowich at 631-853-4775.

The meeting will focus on those interested in applying for a shellfish aquaculture lease under the 2022 lease application cycle. Department staff will provide an overview of the process and the revised program requirements.

Given that all Suffolk leaseholders are required to obtain permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation before starting any aquaculture activities, staff from the D.E.C.’s Division of Marine Resources will participate in the meeting and review the state’s regulatory requirements and permitting.

Under the program, known as SCALP, up to six new 10-acre parcels are leased per year. The Suffolk Legislature gave its unanimous approval to extend it last year after concluding the program’s first 10-year review. In response to complaints from recreational boaters, legislators adopted new cultivation zones and established a lease review board that includes a representative of each of the five East End towns.

The program has proven controversial on the East End, with shellfish farmers and yacht clubs at odds over the use of Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays. Clubs complained about floating oyster gear, saying that it was a navigational hazard. Some shellfish growers, however, say that suspending gear high in the water makes for significantly greater productivity.

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