Letters to the editor: We must maintain nature’s balance


We must maintain nature’s balance

As the spring brings warmer temperatures and blossoming landscapes, the beauty of the North and South forks draws many outdoor enthusiasts, myself included. It’s a season connected with the anticipation of fishing, a passion I’ve cherished since childhood. Living by the water, I’ve cared a lot about responsible fishing, which I have learned from my father, and understanding its role in preserving our aquatic ecosystems. Beyond the thrill of the catch, I’ve come to appreciate the delicate balance required to sustain our marine life and safeguard the waters we cherish.

Over the years, my love for our local aquatic environments has grown deeper, fueled by the insights I’ve gained through firsthand experiences and internships. These experiences, whether at the bustling Southold Fish Market or within the educational realm of Cornell Cooperative Extension, have shed light on the complex relationship between human activities and marine ecology. 

Engaging with local businesses and organizations has underscored the importance of looking carefully into fishing practices. Conversations with visionaries like Andrea Tese, proprietor of the eco-conscious Minnow at the Galley Ho, have reshaped my perspectives. It’s become evident that certain methods, like trawling and scallop dredging, take a toll on our ocean floors and the delicate ecosystems they harbor. The depletion of bay scallops and the detrimental impact on reef habitats serve as reminders of the consequences of unchecked fishing practices.

In deeper research, I’ve encountered harsh realities about dwindling fish populations, notably the once-abundant bluefish. Learning about regulatory measures such as possession limits has been eye-opening, making me rethink what I thought I knew about the resilience of certain species. Ms. Tese’s insights on the shifting dynamics of marine populations have been particularly illuminating, prompting reflection on the sustainability of our fishing practices.

As stewards of our marine environments, we must embrace a more thoughtful approach to fishing — one rooted in conservation, sustainability and respect for nature’s delicate balance. Through education, advocacy and conscientious action, we can ensure that future generations see thriving oceans full of life.

Ryan Shimaitis

Ryan is an eighth grader at Peconic Community School.


Higher standards are the way to go

The standards set by a school district defines the quality of that school. A catchy name, the “Do No Harm” policy will do just the opposite. Many people having good intentions are forgetting that a test is a challenge, not a punishment. Reduce its value, and you reduce the challenge. “Not everyone gets a trophy” is an important life lesson. In the final analysis, schools that adopt the DNH policy will be doing a disservice to their students.

This is a slippery slope. It is always easier to take the less challenging path. An exam can be challenging, but if it has little effect on a student’s grade it offers little incentive for a student to strive for excellence. Reduce the value of a test enough and that test will eventually join others on the junk pile of abandoned standards.

I am serious when I say that more and more students are entering school with the attitude of “Teach me something, I dare you.” We seem to be losing sight of the fact that offering an education is the job of the school, but obtaining an education is the job of the student working in conjunction with guidance provided by the parents.

I cannot imagine how countries that are presently running rings around us (particularly in math and science education) view programs such as DNH. We will need a tremendous amount of well-educated brainpower as we continue into the future. I wonder if that resource will be available to us, or if we will be found lacking. I have several suggestions to administrators and school boards. The first being: return to offering both a regents and a non-regents diploma. For a regents diploma the regents should count for 25% of the student’s grade. Students that are opting for a non-regents diploma do not face the exam and thus they are not “harmed” by it. 

I agree that this is a step back to an older standard. I suggest it only because it will correct a weakness in education that needs correction. To lower standards for students that do not speak the language or with a disability is understandable but in that case, the non-regents path is always an option. If there is one thing that life has taught me, is that when offered the challenge of higher, not lower standards, young people will amaze you.  

Robert Jester


Where is Hochul’s support for Natives?

The Montaukett tribe is one nation and has already been recognized as a federal and state sovereign nation prior to 1906. In 1687, deed issues reflected a disregard for the Montaukett’ rights, prompting a new agreement in 1703 that acknowledged the town’s debt to the Montaukett. The state’s actions, characterized by greed and racism, included restrictions on population growth, threats of arrest for trespassing and denial of inheritance rights in mixed marriages. Additionally, Montaukett members were barred from selling grazing rights to “foreign” Native or African Americans. In 1906, court records described the Montaukett as having mixed with “inferior races,” leading to their classification as “extinct” by a judge who disparagingly labeled them as “shiftless.” 

This verdict, ignoring the tribal members present in the room, contradicted prior legal precedents such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of Cherokee sovereignty in Georgia. Despite established laws governing Native American land and the federal trust responsibility dating back to the 1830s, the state failed to uphold its obligations, disregarding the rights and protections owed to tribes as sovereign nations.

Historically, tribes, like the Montaukett, are required to have a continuous government-to-government relationship with the state. The Montaukett had that prior to 1906. Gov. Hochul’s actions, such as freezing the Seneca Nation’s accounts and vetoing the Montaukett bills for state recognition and Unmarked Burial Site Protection Act, demonstrates a failure to uphold obligations to Indigenous communities. Her decisions, viewed as perpetuating historical injustices, disregard the need for reconciliation and respect for tribal sovereignty. Despite efforts to pass legislation beneficial to tribes like the Montaukett, the governor’s actions reflect a continuation of centuries-old patterns of greed and racism, rather than meaningful progress towards equity and justice.

Angelique Howen


Public sentiment is carrying the day

Thank you for your ongoing coverage of the Strong’s Marine boat storage project on Mattituck Inlet. As you laid out in your most recent article, the Southold Town Planning Board has accepted a Final Environmental Impact Statement, prepared by an outside consultant and largely shaped by community input over the course of a detailed State Environmental Quality Review.  

Strong’s Marine has proposed to excavate about 124,000 cubic yards of sand from a hillside overlooking Mattituck Inlet on West Mill Road to build two roughly 50,000-square-feet heated yacht storage buildings. The FEIS underscored numerous threats the project poses to the environment and public safety, as well as significant impact to local traffic and community character.

On behalf of the community group Save Mattituck Inlet, we want to thank everybody who participated in the process and encourage the entire community to read the report, available on the Southold Town website (https://tinyurl.com/42m6r2hs). Regardless of what you think of the project, the report shows that public sentiment is being taken seriously here in Southold Town. The Planning Board has scrupulously followed the SEQRA process and given the public, both pro and con, ample opportunity to participate.

While this process is not over yet — the Planning Board’s final decision may take another month or two — we are deeply heartened to know that an active and thoughtful community is a welcome participant and can make a difference.

Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Jeff Pundyk