Governor Cuomo visits Bellport Bay
With a Bellport hat and a few bags of shellfish, Governor Andrew Cuomo set out into Bellport Bay to observe the state’s shellfish restoration program Thursday. The program, coordinated by the Department of Environmental Conservation, identified Bellport Bay as one of five sanctuaries for shellfish growth.
Each clam can filter up to two liters of water per day, according to DEC commissioner Basil Seggos. In recent years, using naturally grown oysters and other shellfish has been one of the primary ways to improve local waters. Through pollution, algae can overgrow and make sites inhospitable for shellfish, therefore removing a filter for the water, which in turn causes brown or red tide. Replanting shellfish restores the natural filter. Friends of Bellport Bay, a local nonprofit who has been planting oysters on its own since 2015, has secured a 90 percent survival rate, which allows the program to grow each year.
“Through our plantings and the data collection, we have been able to demonstrate through our studies that shellfish really do indeed prosper in Bellport,” said Thomas Schultz, president of FoBB.
Thursday marked the halfway point in the state’s planting goal for Bellport, a feat which the governor expects to meet, then double. Throughout the state, the halfway point to the 171 million-clam goal will be met this year, Seggos said.
“We must be aggressive and innovative in our response to environmental issues, now more than ever,” said State Sen. Monica Martinez.
Cuomo gave a nod to Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, who has been leading a town-level effort to restore the bays with shellfish farmed at the hatchery in Mt. Siani Harbor. The governor recently approved a $300,000 grant for the hatchery which allows additional electrical power to reach the site, increasing productivity.
“When you take a step back on what we need to accomplish as a society, as a community, there is no issue that comes higher on the list than the environment,” Cuomo said. “And anyone who is observing the course of the world with any reality and objectivity knows that this planet’s environment is in real, real trouble.”
Cuomo said the state is the national leader in restoring the health of waters, with more new technology and money than any other state. He called the effort a “grander scale than has ever been done before”
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