The ongoing efforts to restore populations by researchers at of Suffolk County will continue with the help of an $182,000 award as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative.
Members of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development joined Cornell Cooperatives representatives last week to announce the first stages of the $182,900 award, money that will help the expansion of the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project in Suffolk County. The economy of Suffolk County derives hundreds of millions of dollars from marine-related industries.
“Thanks to the support of the Long Island Regional Economic Council and the Empire State Development Corp, CCE of Suffolk can continue to play a vital role in sustaining this heritage industry," said Vito Minei, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk.
The Peconic Bay Scallops Restoration Project was identified and supported by the Long Island Regional Council as a transformative project — recognition of the importance of increasing the scallop stocks in Peconic Bay. Since the project began in 2005 with the creation of what is said to be the largest scallop spawner sanctuary in the world, efforts by Cornell Cooperative have resulted in increased scallop landings, numerous jobs in the industry and $3 million in annual regional economic activity.
Prior to the mid-1980s, Peconic bay scallops supported a commercial fishery valued at $2 to $4 million. The fishery contributed more than $10 million to the local economy. For 400 to 600 full-time baymen, bay scallops were their primary source of income. In 1985, and again in 1995, a series of brown tide algal blooms destroyed the Peconic bay scallop populations and pushed them to the brink of extinction.
Cornell Cooperative Extension and Long Island University have been leading successful restoration efforts for over 20 years. Long Island University and Cornell scientists have documented a 1,300 percent increase in scallop populations in Orient Harbor, the site at which Cornell has concentrated scallop plantings, as well as large increases in other nearby areas.
Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. As part of that process, the Cornell Cooperative Extension was awarded $182,900 from Empire State Development’s Economic Development Fund.
Cornell Cooperatives objectives include helping to preserve Suffolk County’s heritage, protect its sensitive eco-systems, promote healthy lifestyles, and promote education in science, technology, engineering and math.