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Town Of East Hampton Trustees To Hold Public Informational Meeting On The 10-Year Review Of Suffolk County Aquaculture Lease Program

Trustee John Aldred relayed, "Primarily the meeting will offer a forum for the public to provide feedback to Suffolk County planners on the structure of the program going forward." (Photo: www.facebook.com)

The Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonality of East Hampton are pleased to announce that a special public informational meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 9. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the Amagansett Town Hall meeting room at 159 Pantigo Road.

The public is invited to attend this meeting to offer feedback on the Suffolk County Lease Program (SCALP). "This is part of a ten-year review of the program as it is currently administered," according to Arlene Tesar, Trustee Secretary, "This forum will afford the opportunity for East Hampton residents to provide feedback on the program as part of this ten-year review which can help inform any changes or modifications to the program's structure going forward." Tesar also noted that, "The East Hampton Town Trustees are involved in many interesting projects to improve habitat for fish and wildlife; addressing water quality and in bringing public awareness to issues such as the harm balloon pollution does to fish and marine wildlife populations."

"This program, which provides secure access to marine space for private, commercial shellfish aquaculture, was developed by Suffolk County for publicly-owned underwater lands in Peconic Bay and Gardiners Bay. In 1884, New York State ceded 110,000 acres of Peconic and Gardiners bays to Suffolk County for the purpose of oyster cultivation. Currently, SCALP participants lease ten-acre plots on which they may grow a variety of shellfish. These leases run for ten years," according to the Trustees.

Tesar further explained, "There is a cap on new leases of 600 acres during the first ten years of program implementation. Suffolk 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. These responsibilities are codified in county and state law."

"The agenda for the meeting includes a 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; and overview of the ten-year lease program review process."

Trustee John Aldred elaborated, "Primarily the meeting will offer a forum for the public to provide feedback to Suffolk County planners on the structure of the program going forward."

"The Trustees have also been active in the East Hampton Horseshoe Crab Survey, the spat on shell program and the Accabonac Harbor Mosquito Larvae Survey whose goal is to identify mosquito breeding hot spots so that a small, rather than large area can be treated with pesticides," confirmed Tesar.

Aldred explained, "We are working towards the future, and looking into the possibility of correcting alterations to the marsh in the high breeding areas to greatly reduce or eliminate the further need for methoprene spraying."

Aldred relayed, "Shellfish aquaculture has been an important component of the bay related economy for over a hundred and thirty years and can continue to provide the opportunity to make a living on the water in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. We hope for this forum to afford Suffolk County the constructive feedback it needs from residents to positively and inclusively craft the program into the future."

The public may or may not be aware of these important issues and the diligent work of the Town of East Hampton Trustees and Wednesday's meeting will allow your voice to be heard with regard to SCALP.

For more information go to www.trustees.easthamptonny.gov, or call 631-267-8688.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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