Biotoxin forces closure of 3,900 shellfishing acres in Riverhead, Southampton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | About 30 acres along Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead are closed for shellfishing.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation closed more than 3,900 acres in Southampton and Riverhead Town for shellfishing Monday due to a marine biotoxin that was detected in the area, officials said.

About 30 acres along Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead were closed effective immediately, according to the department. All Southampton waters in Shinnecock Bay west of the Ponquogue and Post Lane Bridges were also closed until further notice.

Shellfish samples in the affected areas tested positive for saxitoxin, which causes shellfish poisoning, according to a statement from the department. The shellfish can also be eaten by carnivorous gastropods, which can make the slugs and snails hazardous for humans to eat.

On April 3, DEC also closed approximately 92 acres for the harvest of shellfish in Mattituck Creek and Mattituck Inlet, including all sides of the rock jetties that protect the inlet. These areas remain closed for shellfishing.

The DEC monitors for biotoxins in shellfish at 19 locations throughout Long Island.

A recorded message updating shellfish harvesters on the status of temporarily closed shellfish areas is available at 444-0480.

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