NYDEC Warns Against Eating Shellfish From Suffolk County

Fishermen Say Local Lobster Industry Taking Massive Hit

HUNTINGTON, NY (CBSNewYork) – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is warning against eating shellfish from some Long Island waters.

They say your life could depend on it because of the chance it is infected with a potentially fatal toxin.

And as CBS 2’s Jay Dow has learned, this warning impacts much more than what you’re eating for dinner.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports: Don’t Eat The Snails

Peter Mattiace is a third generation commercial lobster fisherman and is afraid, with the way business has been going, he will be the last.

“We’re going out, and were barely catching anything. And now, you’re not even allowed to bring them in,” Mattiace said.

Mattiace said Long Island’s generally declining lobster population is in serious trouble now that the species has been added to a growing list of shellfish deemed off limits for eating by state environmental officials.

The warning states it is currently not safe to eat lobster, blue claw crab, conch, and other shellfish, because they could be infected with a fatal neurotoxin, due to problematic seasonal algae blooms in the water.

The affected areas, according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, include the areas around Huntington and Southampton — both in Suffolk County.

The ban is affecting more than appetites. Fishing boats in Huntington Harbor are idle and lobster traps are stacked and out of use. It’s all bad news for the local economy.

“It’s basically forced fisherman to go to other options,” John Marino said.

Marino, a local fishing captain, said morale around the harbor is sinking fast.

“You can see all the boats that aren’t working. You can see all the traps that are stacked up behind you there that are not being put in the water,” Marino said. “If the fishermen aint fishing, there’s no gas being pumped; you got no sandwiches being bought in the deli; you have no ice to ice your fish.”

The situation is worse for career lobster fisherman Mattiace.

“There’s basically zero income coming in from the lobstering,” Mattiace said.

He said he’s had no choice but to give up on trying to earn a living on the water and now works as security guard.

The shellfish ban, which went into effect earlier this month, also includes clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops.

Are you worried about the shellfish in the waters off Long Island? Sound off below in our comments section.

More from Mike Xirinachs
  • alexander prine

    can you eat clams and blue crab in east hampton??

  • jimmy A

    People are forgetting that all the shellfish is nature true filter. Clams, oyster, muscles basically clean our waters around us. everyone is complaining for the poor commercial fisherman who 20 yrs ago destroyed our waters. They sucked up all the shell fish in the area and today we are left with dirty water. So I dont have any pain about them. They did this to them selves over greed. They never once thought about the future. And yes I do agree that we have to create better ways to take care of our spill offs and sewage problems.
    I say Ban all shell fishing for 15 yrs. Let them regrow and clean our waters.

  • Raw SewageInjustice In

    Hey DEC and EPA!!! Everyone knows your allowing our OCEAN to be destroyed by SEWAGE!! Stop covering it up and do something.

  • Geoff Gerbore

    Sure is sad, places like Oyster Bay, Peconic Bay have that name because there once was bountiful harvests of shellfish. The Northeast, LI, NYC, and NYS have to make the investment to clean our waters. This will require clean sewers and septic systems, less chemicals on lawns, less salt on the roads in winter. Long Island sure will not be a nice place when a Brown Tide surrounds us! We all need to take action now.

  • Bucky McFarlan

    I stopped eating clams because tofu is sew much better 4 u.
    Lose the lobster, bite a mobster.

  • RichieT

    NYC only has one sewer system. The waste lines and the storm drains, are the same system . When there’s a heavy rain fall, the processing centers overflow Everything just dumps into the rivers and canals Eating fish caught in the waters anywhere near NYC? No thank you. Not a chance.

  • My Evil Twin

    And what’s causing the problematic seasonal algae blooms in the water? Don’t moan about the lobster catch, clean up the problem.

  • CAl

    “problem is cause by seasonal algae blooms” Ha, what about trash dumping? Don’t tell me it has not effect whatsoever.

    • Blecch!

      All that rain = all that runoff. Northport harbor is essentially a sewer that then pollutes the bay.

  • nyc

    Potentially fatal ? All of the fish caught in New York waters should be tested ! I see people fishing in Battery Park City every day ( the fish they catch are glowing ) and would certainly not eat any of the fish caught there ! Probably ends up in Chinatown restaurants.

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