Hempstead Town Breaks Ground On Shellfish Hatchery Expansion Project

Published On: 2018-07-23 20:49:41

Millions of Additional Clams and Oysters to Clean Polluted Waterways, Support Local Fishermen, and Help Protect Residents against Storms

Issued by: Town of Hempstead, Office of Supervisor Laura Gillen

(POINT LOOKOUT, NY) – Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen was joined by State Senator Todd Kaminsky and environmentalists from the Town’s Department of Conservation and Waterways to break ground on a state-of-the-art hatchery expansion project, which will produce millions of additional clams and oysters for local waterways.

The expansion, funded through a $400,000 grant from the New York State Department of Energy Conservation, will be complete by December 2018 and will nearly quadruple the hatchery’s output, creating millions of oysters and clams that will be used to filter and reduce pollution in local waterways, as well as attract new marine life, and act as natural buffers against rising sea tides and hurricanes.

The Town of Hempstead, once the heart of a thriving and iconic shellfish industry, oversees approximately 17,000 acres of wetlands and 180 miles of coastal waterways, comprising much of the South Shore where shellfish populations have been on a steep decline. Since 1980, fish and shellfish populations have declined by more than 90 % due to Long Island's deteriorating water quality, as well as over-fishing.

“Using shell power, or more precisely oysters, can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, as we clean the back bays of Long Island,” said Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen. “I’m proud to announce that this expansion, due for completion by late fall, will almost quadruple output at the hatchery and will produce millions more of these little filter feeders that are expected to significantly reduce pollution in local waterways, create jobs for local fishermen, and act as natural buffers against rising sea tides and hurricanes.”

“This shellfish hatchery will help bring about the rebirth of aquatic life in the bays of the Long Beach Barrier Island. Thank you Governor Cuomo, Supervisor Gillen, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for making the revitalization of our back bays a priority,” said Senator Todd Kaminsky, Ranking Member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

Long Island's history, culture and traditions are closely linked to clams. The first coastal inhabitants of New York called Long Island the "Island of Shells" in recognition of the vast numbers of clam, oyster and other shells deposited on its shore.

“We’re committed to leaving our environment better than we found it. And we’re committed to safe and clean water that can be enjoyed by all, including our future generations,” said Gillen.

According to the New York Seafood Council in the 1970s more than half of the clams eaten in the United States were from Long Island at their peak population, clams filtered 40 percent of the water within the bay and contributed over $100 million to the local economy.

“This is a win- win all around,” said Gillen. “It’s not only great for the environment, but will hopefully support a growing marine based industry that local fishermen can depend on,” said Gillen. “The marine economy alone makes up 9.7 percent of Long Island's total GDP.”