Featured Story

Councilman seeks support for baymen

Marcus Kaasik at a Town Board special meeting earlier this year on seagrass management.

Are conservation moorings protecting or ruining the environment?

The debate continues among Islanders with many baymen arguing that the moorings meant to protect seagrasses on bay bottoms end up tearing the grass from its roots as the moorings work their way out of the ground over time. They also worried it could ruin their equipment.

But Soren Dahl, of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission told the baymen at a recent meeting that the technology has improved during the past few years and the conservation moorings have proven to be very successful in New England waters.

Still, the baymen are skeptical, saying that out of conservation moorings installed four or five years ago, three of nine failed to work correctly.

In a response to a Reporter question about the conservation moorings, Marcus Kaasik said the town’s Baymen and Anglers Committee is “unanimously against the installation of any Helix or Conservation moorings. We wish the Town Board would make a resolution banning them completely.”

He explained that the moorings screw in to an area and become “a fixed obstacle on the sea floor that present a permanent danger when harvesting the bay. They can bend a scallop dredge, pull a cleat or rip out the transom of a boat when hit.”

Councilman Jim Colligan reported the dispute to his Town Board colleagues at the October 30 work session.

But Mr. Dahl and Elizabeth Hornstein of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, a nonprofit interstate agency, said they believed a pilot program has merit. Ms. Hornstein, who is also coordinator of the New York State Department of Environment Conservation Division of Marine Resources and Bureau of Marine Habitat, said the Town Board would review the pilot program proposal and decide how best to proceed.

She and Mr. Dahl suggested six conservation moorings be placed in Coecles Harbor, which has been reported to have the healthiest seagrass in the region.

Neither Mr. Dahl nor Ms. Hornstein represent regulatory agencies, and have no authority to demand any mandates affecting town practices in the Peconic Estuary.

Mr. Colligan called on his Town Board colleagues to determine what is already being done and what else can be done to meet the concerns of the baymen.

Among the areas he recommended are:
• Continue to focus on dredging key seagrass harbors, creeks and bays.
• Recognize the importance of marsh areas and ensure they are protected from abuses by monitoring removal of floating docks and unused moorings.
• Monitor seagrass areas and request DEC assistance when necessary.
• Pass legislation to address “slow-release fertilizers” in near-shore areas, and restrict spraying in near-shore areas, particularly on windy days and immediately before moderate to heavy rain.
• Support education efforts among recreational boaters in seagrass and marsh areas.
• Ensure the removal of all mooring by December 1 of each year and block reinstallation prior to April 1 of the following year.
• Use limited signage to mark key seagrass areas.

Police Chief Jim Read said many of the steps the baymen are seeking are already being done. The board expressed willingness to determine what is already being addressed and ways in which they can continue to support other interests the baymen have.

A crew of painters told the Board they are willing to paint the trim on Police Headquarters without charge. Borislav, Stefan, Milos and Boris Djurasic of Hamptons Fine Carpentry volunteered their services.

Boris Djurasic told the board they would start work the day after the meeting and, weather permitting, wrap up the job in a few days.

The board will provide the men with a statement on the worth of the project so they may get a tax deduction for their efforts. Members expressed gratitude to the men for volunteering to do the work without cost to town taxpayers.