Thomas Suozzi

09/21/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/21/2020 16:33

Suozzi: “Marine Life, Shellfish, and Biodiversity are Being Choked by Hydraulic Dredging in Oyster Bay Harbor and We Must Prevent It From Happening in Mill Neck Creek”

Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D - Long Island, Queens) was joined by baymen and local environmental groups to call on the New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to re-examine their permitting process for hydraulic shellfish dredging of clams and oysters in the Oyster Bay Harbor and Mill Neck Creek.

Joining Suozzi were representatives from Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, Defend H20, and about a dozen baymen representing the North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association. Speakers cited studies that delineate how the hydraulic dredging methods employed by Frank M. Flowers & Sons harmfully impact the area of Mill Neck Creek and surrounding estuaries and bays in the Town of Oyster Bay.

'The Long Island Sound and its harbors are our National Park. These waters represent a way of life for countless numbers of both recreational and commercial shellfishermen,' said Suozzi. 'Hydraulic shellfish dredging has had a serious impact on the quality of the water and the biodiversity in and around Oyster Bay. I am calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to re-examine its permitting processes for this type of shellfish harvesting. We need to protect our natural resources by promoting sustainable practices that enhance the fragile ecological balance of these waters.'

'Oyster Bay Harbor is an ecologically important coastal system that is held in the public trust. Water quality and the ecological health of this harbor must be protected for all the public and not be allowed to degrade because of the actions of a few. Mechanical dredging is immensely harmful because it crushes and buries finfish and shellfish and degrades water quality. This significant damage diminishes our rich tradition of baymen and degrades the overall ecological productivity of the harbor. Hydraulic and suction dredging are antiquated practices that need to be modernized and transitioned to more sustainable and protective practices. We applaud Congressman Suozzi for supporting the baymen and the protection of this rich ecological embayment,' said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Earlier today, Suozzi addressed a letter to Colonel Matthew Luzzatto, the recently installed Commander of the New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers, requesting that the ACOE reexamine their permitting process for hydraulic shellfish dredging in Oyster Bay. Earlier this year, the ACOE added Mill Neck Creek as an area acceptable for hydraulic shellfish dredging without any restrictions or public input. Hydraulic shellfish dredging in all of Oyster Bay's water currently occurs without any of the permits required under the Clean Water Act. A copy of Suozzi's letter is attached.

Numerous reports and studies have highlighted how hydraulic harvesting methods employed by Frank M. Flowers & Sons, Inc. in Oyster Bay have caused excess sediment to blow out onto the surrounding sea floor, smothering other marine life and thereby threatening the continued vitality of this special area. For more on these studies, please visit the website of the North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association.