Oysters may become Northport Harbor’s saving grace

Oysters may become Northport Harbor’s saving grace

Barry Udelson from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County shows those in attendance oysters. Photo by Kimberly Brown

After a great amount of hard work and dedication, Village of Northport trustee Dave Weber Jr. was happy to announce Wednesday, July 28, that the latest stage of the aquaculture program between Northport Village, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and Town of Huntington Maritime Services is officially operating.

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci speaks at the July 28 press conference. Photo by Kimberly Brown

The entities have established Floating Upweller System, also known as FLUPSY, floats which will become essential to preserving the oyster population as well as cleaning waterways in Northport Harbor.

“About 30 community members set this plan in motion to raise funds and support this FLUPSY program,” Weber said, “What’s better than to start an aquaculture program right here in our own backyard to support, safeguard and help maintain a healthy marine environment?”

There are numerous benefits to having the FLUPSY dock in Northport Harbor because it allows a large number of oysters to grow while simultaneously protecting them from natural predators.

“The idea behind this is that we’re constantly providing a heavy flow of water passing over the shellfish,” said Barry Udelson from CCE of Suffolk County. “If you’re pumping water through them, they’re constantly getting a much healthier diet. Think about giving them heavy protein shakes, they’ll grow much faster than if they were naturally sitting on the bay bottom.”

The dock holds 100,000 baby oysters that are 4 to 10 millimeters in size. In a few months, the oysters will grow to approximately 40 mm.

Once the oysters are mature enough to survive out in open waters, Huntington Maritime Services and CCE of Suffolk County will place them in the bay. The oysters will continue to grow until they are big enough to be harvested by baymen.

“This is the first year, but as we continue to grow we may be able to expand these floats to more than 100,000 oysters,” Udelson said. “As more communities like yours start to appreciate this, we can find ways to continue to expand to other parts of Long Island and improve everyone’s water quality.”

The oysters will be able to filter out the nitrogen, caused by rain runoff, fertilizers and cesspools and introduce oxygen into the water. The process will serve as an efficient way to clean out the waterways and create safer habitats for other species.

The FLUPSY program will also have an educational component to it and help teach students about shellfish aquaculture. Currently, the program has taken on two Northport High School interns who will work with CCE of Suffolk County..

“This is a great day because this is really how government should work together,” said Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). “We want to continue these great efforts and work along with the village and Cornell Cooperative Extension to help restore our water quality.”