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Islip Town Launches Aquaculture Program

New initiative designed to boost Great South Bay's shellfish population.

In an effort to boost the Great South Bay’s shellfish population and long term help improve the quality of the water, Islip Town is launching an aquaculture program and is looking for local entrepreneurs to lease acres in the bay.

Under the program, lessees will pay the town an annual $750 fee for each acre they lease and will be required to purchase all shellfish seed from Islip’s Shellfish Hatchery in East Islip. The species of shellfish allowed under the program are bay scallop, hard clam, American oyster, blue mussel, soft shell clam and razor clam.

“This effort allows us to reach out to be people and not only allow them an opportunity to make some money but also help the shellfish population grow in the bay,” said Councilman John Edwards. “They could also have the additional impact of improving the overall quality of the bay.”

Private operators will be permitted to farm the land they lease and will be able to collect and sell what they harvest. However, any shellfish that drift out of the specified area become part of the bay’s general shellfish population.

In addition, each lease holder will be required to provide an annual report on the growth of each species and their survival rate. Town officials said this will provide valuable data to be used in on-going efforts to revitalize the Great South Bay.

Edwards said that parcels of the bay to be leased by Islip Town will be in areas that are not heavily trafficked or used by local boaters for recreational purposes.

Douglas A. Winter, a West Islip resident and partner in Long Island Blue Point Oyster, LLC, is one of the early participants in Islip Town’s aquaculture program.

“I think this could be something that would be a great hobby and perhaps something I could make a little money with,” he said. “It will also help the bay as oysters are a great filter for the water as well.”

While Islip’s aquaculture program is just getting underway, Suffolk County has run an aquaculture program in Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay that covers thousands of acres in both bodies of water.

Town Eliminates Pet Adoption Fees

The Islip Town Council recently voted to eliminate the $50 fee to adopt a pet from the Islip Animal Shelter. On March 8, the council approved the fee elimination by a vote of 4-1.

Town officials feel eliminating the fees will make it easier to find homes for animals at the shelter. There could also be a cost savings as well for the town by reducing veterinary and maintenance costs, officials said.

Although adoption fees have been eliminated, the town continues to mandate a thorough screening process. Residents looking to adopt a pet from the Islip Animal Shelter will still have to meet several criteria before being allowed to take a pet home. 

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