Southampton Town to secure its first bay scallop nursery with help from $ 580 billion grant, Cornell CE
A grant of $ 580,000 from the City of Southampton will help Cornell Cooperative Extension in Suffolk County establish the first Bay Scallop Nursery in Southampton and stock 250,000 scallops in city waters.
Southampton Town and Cornell officials gathered at Cornell’s Tiana Bayside facility in Hampton Bays earlier this month for a scallop-throwing ceremony to mark the start of the project to improve water quality .
“There are no bay scallop restoration efforts or nurseries in the city of Southampton, so this is the first of its kind there,” said Kim Barbour, Marine Program Outreach Manager. from Cornell. “We are really excited.”
Bay scallops, which are typically fished commercially from November to March, filter the water as they feed.
The initiative will also help improve the number of seashells in the berries, Barbour said. Two years of scallop mortality recently led the federal government to declare a disaster in the Peconic Bay fishery. However, an ongoing investigation funded by New York State and conducted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Stony Brook University reveals higher levels of scallop larvae than seen in 17 years.
The grant money comes from the city’s Community Preservation Fund, which is funded by a 2% tax on real estate transfers. Twenty percent of the fund can be used for water quality initiatives like the Cornell Project.
“This program helps improve the quality of our water while supporting our local economy and celebrating our marine heritage, making it a winning situation all around,” said Southampton City Supervisor Jay Schneiderman in a Press release.
Cornell will test the waters near its facilities to determine if the area is a suitable nursery site. Scallops spawn at the Cornell facility at Cedar Beach in Southold and then are reared elsewhere.
An expansion plan for an existing coastal nursery at the Hampton Bays site is also underway, allowing more plants to be grown for coastal resilience and habitat restoration projects, Barbour said.
“With this grant, we are going to be able to really step up these efforts,” she said.
The grant also helps fund public awareness and workshops like the one focused on creating what is known as Sea Grasslands. Volunteers weave eelgrass into jute mats which are then buried at the bottom of the bay to create the scallop’s preferred habitat, said Barbour.
Southampton city administrators, a governing body that oversees some underwater lands, have designated a nearby 5-acre expanse as eelgrass sanctuary.