Photos of the Long Island Sound

Status and Trends: LISS Environmental Indicators

Type of Indicators: Health/Condition Response/Performance Socio-Economic Historical/Background

Approved Shellfish Acreage

  • CT
  • NY

Source: CT Dept of Agriculture/Bureau of Aquaculture, NYSDEC

Connecticut
Approved Conditionally Approved Restricted Prohibited
2005 149264.99 79282.6 138047.89 23327.5
2006 134869.7 93048.2 138677.6 23327.54
2007 134038.58 93763.79 138784.4 23336.84
2008 134038.5 93763.51 138735.47 22708.19
2009 133579.77 93835.73 138873.48 22953.95
2010 134524.16 92817.97 138833.28 23070.65
2011 128175.47 99156.07 138572.7 23341.82
Approved growing area where direct marketing is allowed and water meets certain bacterial standards. Conditionally approved growing area meets the criteria for an Approved classification except under certain conditions, for example, under dry weather up to 1.0” of rain, or seasonally when boats are removed from an area.  Restricted growing area is subject to a limited degree of bacterial pollution but may be relayed to other cleaner areas of the Sound for cleansing. Prohibited growing area is subject to contamination by a sewage treatment plant or otherwise contaminated by deleterious substances and may only be used as a source of seed oysters.
New York
Certified Seasonal* Uncertified
2000 410552 942 77518
2001 410552 942 77518
2002 410597 879 77473
2003 410597 879 77473
2004 410336 961 77734
2005 410336 961 77734
2006 409934 1650 78136
2007 409934 1650 78136
2008 409889 1650 78181
2009 409889 1650 78181
2010 409889 1650 78171
2011 412093 1690 75424
Certified shellfish areas are of such condition that shellfish may be taken from there for use as food. Uncertified shellfish lands are areas from which the harvesting of shellfish for use as food is prohibited. Seasonally certified areas are uncertified (closed) during several months of the year, usually from late spring through late fall due to documented water quality problems during the warmer months of the year. Other seasonal closures are around marinas and boat mooring areas because of the potential for sewage discharges from marine toilets. *Seasonally certified (closed) acreage is a subset of total uncertified acreage, and its acreage is also included in the uncertified shellfish lands column.

What are Shellfish Lands?

In New York, shellfish lands are defined as all tidal or saline waters within the marine district and the lands lying thereunder, including such lands which are exposed at low tide. In Connecticut, shellfish growing areas are defined as any area that supports or could support the growth and/or propagation of molluscan shell stock (live clams, oysters, mussels and scallops in their shell). Both states reevaluate shellfish areas for improvements or degradation of water quality and status of pollution sources, and to determine whether it’s classification for harvesting species should be upgraded or downgraded..

What does this indicate?

Approved shellfish acreage indicates whether water quality in embayments and tidal rivers and in open waters near the shore are able to support the harvesting of shellfish for human consumption.

Status

In Connecticut, more than 6,000 acres  of approved growing areas were downgraded from 2010 to 2011, adding to a decline of more than 16,000 acres that occurred from 2005 to 2006. Resource managers cited as a reason increased coastal development bringing more  impervious surfaces such as sidewalks and rooftops. After heavy rains, stormwater runoff  carries pollutants such as harmful bacteria from animal waste onto these hard surfaces and into storm drains and streams that end up in coastal waters. In 2010, however, Connecticut added an  additional 950 acres of approved shellfish acreage in offshore waters closest to Westport thanks in part to improvements in water quality along the Norwalk River. Upgrades in the wastewater treatment plant and the removal of some lllegal sewage connections into the river contributed to the improvements. In 2011, citing the positive results of sanitary surveys, water quality monitoring and shellfish tissue testing, NYSDEC certified and reopened  approximately 2,500 acres of shellfish beds for shellfish harvesting in outer Hempstead Harbor and Long Island Sound. This area had been closed to the harvest of shellfish for more than 40 years.

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Flowers Oyster Barge in Oyster Bay. Photo taken by Matthew Graff during NYSDEC Shellfish Sanitation sampling event.

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