Health dept. offers ‘common sense recommendations’ following fish kills

For those who may be swimming in the Peconic River or eating fish caught in area waters in the wake of a pair of fish kills that have led to the death of thousands of bunker, the Suffolk County Department of Health has issued a Peconic River recreation advisory, reminding residents to “follow some common-sense recommendations.”

After a fish kill was reported in late May in the area — which also killed local terrapin turtles — another hit the mouth of the Peconic River last weekend. According to Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, over five tons of fish were dragged from area waters in recent days and buried at the town landfill.

Among recommendations listed by health officials are for residents to check the county’s map of regulated beach closings. When waters at any regulated beach contain bacteria levels that exceed New York State standards, the beach is closed to the public.

Residents who are wading, fishing, boating, kayaking or canoeing are reminded to “avoid water with accumulations of dead fish.” Washing hands and taking a shower shortly after leaving any water that may contain bacteria and parasites is also recommended.

Handling fish that are found dead, dying, acting abnormal or seem sick is also discouraged. Fish that are handled should be handled with protective gloves.

Lastly, live fish that are caught may contain bacteria and should be cooked thoroughly in order to kill any bacteria, parasites and other micro-organisms.

For more information, visit the Suffolk County Health Department’s Facebook page.