Seeding the bay with shellfish is a huge economic driver for the town, said Donna Olson, of Southampton, as she stood before the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday night asking the supervisor to reinstate $27,000 in seeding money that is proposed to be cut from the town's budget.
The clams seeded in the bay are an economic driver for Southampton, Olson said, because when they come to maturity in two years they will be harvested by local baymen and sold. And on top of their economic importance, the bays benefit because shellfish filter the water.
Olson's statements were answered by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who said that if the Town Trustees, who oversee the town's bays and waterways, want to see the program continue, they can fund it with their own budget.
Eric Shultz, president of the trustees, however, says the trustees don't have the funds.
In a statement, he said, "The trustees are limited in their ability to generate funds and at this time depend on the town board to raise money for the bulk of our budget."
He added, "Three years ago the shellfish line was dropped from thirty thousand dollars per year to zero. We have been making up the shortfall in this and all the other budget cuts through the sale of sand from the mecox cut. The town is proposing to spend over 2 million dollars to dredge and spread sand on the beach and this will eliminate a major revenue source. The trustees continue to be fiscally responsible and at the same time explore additional revenue sources but we need the town board to support a budget that is realistic to the goals of environmental preservation."
The petition reads:
"Southampton Town waters are in a state of crises and direct in-water remediation is our best first line of defense. Marine Scientists at SUNY Stony Brook have a well documented plan for remediation, which is science-based and a model of success in other estuaries around the country. The cornerstone of this plan uses the natural filtration abilities of clams and oysters to help cleanse our waters and reduce algae, which cause harmful blooms. Restoring bivalve populations by adding millions of clams and oysters to our bays improves ecological conditions, it promotes sustainable harvesting, and supports local non-profits that provide the seed. Everyone should do their part to help our waters - including the Town of Southampton. Don't cut critical funding for Shellfish Seeding."
Residents from Hampton Bays to Southampton and Sag Harbor agreed with the statement, signing their names along with reasons why the town should reverse its decision.
Jacqueline Osborn of Sag Harbor, wrote, "Thriving bays keep the food chain and life cycles vibrant and flourishing...who wants dead bays around us?"
Kathy Dunn of Hampton Bays, wrote, "We need to keep the sea life growing and the fishermen working."
Emoke Forman of Southampton, added, "Anything we can do to preserve the quality of water or air is essential."
Diana Guenther Sagaponack said, "Please don't cut funding. This area has a strong dependence on healthy local waters - it effects not only the economy of those who depend on fishing for a livelihood but it's what has made this area the highly valued recreational area it has become."
Patch wants to know: Do you think the town should cut the shellfish seeding money? Will you sign the petition? Let us know in the comment section below.
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