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Peconic Bay Scallop Die-Off On Long Island Leads To Federal Disaster Declaration

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Federal regulators have declared a fishery disaster following a massive scallop die-off over the last two years in eastern Long Island.

Nearly 90% of Peconic Bay scallops died off because of parasitic disease, an invasive predator and warming waters due to climate change.

Barley Dunne, who runs the shellfish hatchery in East Hampton, said he hopes sets of scallops can make a comeback.

“Last year, there was a huge set from Flanders in Riverhead all the way out to Montuak. And right now there are tons of beautiful 1-year-old bay scallops at the bottom. So, the big question is whether they are going to make it through the summer. Because that’s when the die-off is occurring,” Dunne said.

The state first asked for federal help and a disaster declaration in December 2019.

Baymen were contacted this month that they are now eligible for federal disaster assistance to rejuvenate shellfish nurseries. It also gives them access to grants from the Small Business Administration.

“Fisheries are essential to our communities and economy and we want to ensure America is in a position to remain competitive on the global stage,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement about the four declarations in New York, Washington and Alaska. “These determinations allow us to lend a helping hand to the fishing families and communities that have experienced very real and difficult setbacks in the last few years.”

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.