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Restrictions proposed for clamming in Great South Bay

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I would give my left nut to see the GSB get cleaned up and the clamming industry make a come back!!!


copy and paste from Newsday.com

Whether the clams were abundant or scarce, commercial clammers on the Great South Bay have always been free to take as many as they want.
Now - more than three decades after the spectacular crash of the bay's hard clam population - local governments are considering whether to block new applicants from clamming and impose daily harvest limits. The recommendations come as communities try to restore a fishery decimated by overharvesting, pollution and environmental changes in the Great South Bay.
The proposals have yet to be finalized or put to a vote by the towns they concern - Babylon, Islip and Brookhaven. But they have already set scientists, environmental advocates and some local officials against baymen who say there aren't enough clammers left on the bay to make a dent.
"Why put a moratorium?" said Don Smith, a bayman from Patchogue who blames poor water quality for low clam harvests. "There's nobody going clam digging."
Local clam harvests hit an all-time high in the mid-1970s, then declined in the next decade. The population has yet to recover.
Last year, Babylon, Islip and Brookhaven issued 158 town shellfish permits. The state issued 477 permits to town residents, many of whom likely fish outside town waters. The three towns own about 50,000 acres of underwater land in the Great South Bay.
The proposed changes come out of an intergovernmental group formed last year by Suffolk County to develop management and protection plans for hard clams in the Great South Bay. Members include environmental advocates, shellfish industry representatives and local, state and federal officials.
The idea is to provide breathing room for millions of baby clams that the towns and the Nature Conservancy have been seeding across the bay bottoms to boost the populations. Clam surveys this year indicate that recurring blooms of brown tide algae may have killed off many of the juveniles that were hailed last fall as a sign that restoration efforts were working.
"It hasn't wiped out the initial gains," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. He said the rules were needed to help restore the fishery. "Overharvesting before we're ready could impede our ability to get long-range sustainability."
The group wants the towns to set up a separate hard clam permit that would only allow commercial harvesting by those who are already active clammers. At least 450 diggers in the three towns would be eligible for the permit, according to the recommendations.
Baymen would be limited to 2,000 hard clams per day under the proposed rules. Recreational clammers could take only 50, instead of the 100-clam limit set by the state.
New York State does not set a commercial harvest limit for clams, but towns can adopt stricter laws. Seven other Long Island towns have daily limits that range from 2,000 clams to 10 bushels, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Some baymen said local governments should focus on opening up more areas to shellfishing and improving water quality in the bay through stricter regulation of sewage plants and other polluters.
"Basically all we're saying is if they give us water quality along the road, we'll have clams," said Bill Hamilton, vice president of the Brookhaven Baymen's Association and a member of the committee that came up with the proposals. Hamilton said he voted against them but was overruled. "A lot of the things that they're trying to get in place, it's like putting the cart before the horse," he said.
But those who have been working to restore the bay's decimated clams say the changes are necessary to protect the remaining population, particularly if clams start to rebound.
"If word gets out that things are looking good on the bay there could be a tremendous increase in the number of permits and diggers out there," said William Wise, director of the Living Marine Resources Institute at Stony Brook University. "It's a real concern that any success we might have would be quickly overcome by a significant increase in harvest activity."
post #2 of 20
Improving the water quality is the key here.
How can a company that seeded its own clams. Had thousands of acres of bay bottom, been in busness for I think at least 50 years have to give it up. The clams are not surviving. At one time there were enought clams for 10,000 permits to be given out by the state.
Willie
post #3 of 20
It confounds me to this day that people have to fight to get sewage treatment capacities increased.

What's the downside to cleaner water? We swim in it, we eat from it. The only downside is cost, and when you're paying to avoid being knee deep in your own waste, it's money well spent.
post #4 of 20
I blame the decimation of the clam stock on the mismanagement from the state to the town, over development of the shore, stormwater, sewage and other point sources of freshwater and the natural cycles the bay has always experienced.

Willie is right there were more than 10,0000 commercially licensed shellfisherman in the 70's. I know because my license was over 10,000 and I had it since 1968.

I say the bay was mismanaged because of the way the Towns and State dealt with the uncertified waters and seed diggers at the time. Additionally Southwest Sewer District, and bayside development changed salinity and algae levels in the bay. Brown tide wiped out the eel grass beds that lined the entire southern portion of the bay from Kismet to the Smiths Point bridge and beyond.

Of course if the Towns said it was their policies that ended the clamming industry in the bay, that wouldn't look too good politically. It's much easier to blame a few hard working souls, now that no one is left out there.

One thing I'd like to see added to the requirements for obtaining a shellfish license is a valid legal Social Security Number.

Pete
post #5 of 20
Waterfront houses + lush lawns = plenty of chemicals going into the bay. It amazes me there are really no restrictions.

The overall runoff is also a huge issue. Its amazing how often the local bay beaches are closed in the summer.

Let's be honest, the general population really doen't give a sh*t whats going on in the bay, as long as they can run the boats in the summer, and work up a good buzz.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Let's be honest, the general population really doen't give a ---- whats going on in the bay, as long as they can run the boats in the summer, and work up a good buzz.

John
You got that right, one population that seems to be growing is the BWI crowd.
It's become all too common, and deadly.

On another point, it seems just like Nature Conservancy to limit access,(to shellfish this time) rather than come up with a plan, that is equitable to all the citizens. They always seem to be shutting things down. Next they'll be stringing off GSB.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
I agree with all of what you guys posted. I swear the GSB went downhill quickly after they opened the Southwest Sewer District Plant.

I can't believe they want to impose restrictions on the few guys who still dig.

I've had it with Long Island. When my youngest daughter finishes college in 6 years I'm outta here........I hope But where does one go????
post #8 of 20
John,(Wetaline)
I'm with ya man. I always thought I'd just move east. Now I'm thinking ......
the land of NO! is spreading. I just got a chance to see the paper, if that's the same Don Smith he was a hell of a good tonger in his day, one of Carlson's Hippies. A great bunch of guys.
Pete
post #9 of 20
Pete one of the baymen I know went to South Hampton in the early eightys From what I hear he is now working lobsters in the sound.
Willie
post #10 of 20
Sad to see an area that supported a bunch of diggers that made a damn good living is a virtual desert now. IMHO water quality degradation is the culprit, not overharvesting. In Southampton Town we have had a good set of hard clams for each of the last 5 or 6 years. The best set has been in the cleanest water over hard bottom. I know I'm comparing apples with apples here, but it's a first hand observation. Merry Christmas to all, especially you Willy, and that's no BS.
post #11 of 20
Pakalolo you are puting me into shock. Merry Christmass.
Willie
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by wetaline View Post
I agree with all of what you guys posted. I swear the GSB went downhill quickly after they opened the Southwest Sewer District Plant.

I can't believe they want to impose restrictions on the few guys who still dig.

I've had it with Long Island. When my youngest daughter finishes college in 6 years I'm outta here........I hope But where does one go????



West is always a good start. What year about did they open up that sewer district? The reason they want to impose restrictions right now is so that if they can improve the population it wont get decimated with over harvesting in the future.
post #13 of 20
Willy, I have no personal beef with you, it's just that you and I have a different perspective on a couple of issues. I didn't know that you were a clammer and supported your family by commercial shellfishing, that counts for a lot in my book.
post #14 of 20
no doubt that water quality is the prime factor in the regeneration of clams.the last time the GSB saw a spurt of clamming was in the 90's when pikes broke thru.in the 80's i was clamming in Florida,there was a huge set of clams in the indian river from cocoa beach to sebastian.there was another big set of seed tiny spat to pinky nail sized. there were some big rains ,the army corp opened the flood gates,that was the end of the that huge set. of course the clammers were blamed for "raping the river''. willy are you talking about a guy named John German? Pete,i was one of the first guys to sell to Richie C. he use to give you a buck more for each bag you sold him.i didn't think Smitty still clammed.a freind on the cape sand eels is still good freinds with him,i will ask next time i talk to him.remember the first time clams hit 100 bucks a bag.the winter of 81, the bay froze solid dec14,right before Christmas, Lance gave 100 bucks a count.god do i miss that life.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Pete one of the baymen I know went to South Hampton in the early eightys From what I hear he is now working lobsters in the sound.


You know Willy that was alot of guys dreams, pound that bay really hard, save up and get into another fishery like lobsters. You had to save quite a bit of money, because there were very few banks willing to lend money to a self employed clamdigger. Oystermans Savings was a LI bank that would lend. I paid 18% on my first new truck in 1981.

The local lobster supply company that used to make traps, and have two semi trailers constantly filled with bait is almost empty. They are still open from 5AM to 9AM but they have nothing in stock. I bought their last coil of warp a month ago.


I hope your friend is doing better than most of the guys.

John,
I was thinking it was John German as well. I thought the Huether's did the same thing out of Mattituck. Merry Christmas to all.
Pete
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