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Monday forum on aquaculture lease program set at Mashomack Manor House

The Town of Shelter Island, The Nature Conservancy and the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning are hosting a public meeting at the Mashomack Preserve Manor House Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. to discuss the county’s Aquaculture Lease Program.

The purpose of the meeting is to outline the program and seek community feedback as part of a 10-year review of the program.

The program is meant to provide secure access to marine space for private, commercial shellfish aquaculture, and lease 10-acre plots on which they may grow a variety of shellfish.

The county authorizes and controls access to underwater lands and the New York State Department of Environmental  Conservation regulates all aspects of shellfish cultivation and issues permits for it on these lands.

But the program has drawn concerns from local baymen who have objected to oyster farms being created in local waters where they believe such developments could interfere with their livelihood.

Several baymen are expected to be at Monday’s meeting to hear about specific plans in the waters surrounding Shelter Island and to express their views.

The program calls for discussion of:

• The history of shellfish aquaculture in Peconic and Gardiners bays.

• The development of the existing shellfish aquaculture lease program, its administration and current status.

• Lease program maps and online information available to the public.

•Contemporary aquaculture practices in the bays.

• An overview of the 10-year lease program review process.

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