CONSCIENCE POINT SHELLFISH HATCHERY
The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery (CPSH), a registered nonprofit corporation in New York State, was founded in October 2014 with the mission to “advance Southampton Town’s rich maritime history with modern practices of sustainable aquaculture and ecological stewardship of town waters. We achieve this by growing shellfish, which are used to seed local bays, restore shellfish populations and improve water quality; and by promoting aquaculture through education and experiential opportunities.
Four themes characterize our mission: Restoration, Education, Vocation and Research.
Nitrogen pollution is a major problem within the Peconic Estuary System. Excess nitrogen comes from fertilizers, storm water runoff and septic system discharge. The CPSH and the Peconic Estuary Program share a common interest in reducing the amount of nitrogen in the form of nitrate in our marine waters. Nitrate promotes the growth of phytoplankton (algae). A mature oyster is capable of filtering from 30-50 gal. of water per day and in so doing will consume the plankton which contributes to the oysters growing biomass. Nitrogen containing oyster byproducts are then denitrified by bacteria and the resulting harmless nitrogen gas is released into the atmosphere. In an effort to seed local bays, our oysters have been placed in North Sea Harbor, Sag Harbor, Shinnecock Bay and Reeves Bay (Flanders), Cold Spring Pond, and Moriches Bay.
The CPSH is a community-based facility that initially employed local community volunteers to assist in the construction of the hatchery. Now, many of those volunteers are learning about sustainable aquaculture by participating in the operation and maintenance of the hatchery. Further, volunteers learn about and assist in the development and promotion of the hatchery’s goals. The CPSH has also established student internships whereby volunteers and paid high school and college students learn shellfish aquaculture skills. Hatchery representatives also visit local elementary and secondary classrooms to demonstrate the principles and positive consequences of aquaculture.
The CPSH is dedicated to promoting aquaculture on Eastern Long Island in our Community. In the past year, we have done this by providing seventy three thousand oysters to various “oyster gardens” and by providing the technical assistance and appropriate hardware needed to be successful.
Our shellfish have been dispersed on the bottom in uncertified waters and also held in floating cages in certified waters. This provides us the opportunity to observe and measure the effects of these two sets of shellfish on shellfish bed proliferation and on the adjacent marine communities (e.g. sea grass). It is anticipated that the once established, shellfish beds would change water quality. During the period between May and September 2015, a student intern monitored water quality at our oyster sites in North Sea Harbor. The following water parameters were measured: salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, turbidity and nitrogen. It is the goal of the CPSH to monitor these qualities through out the year.