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Posted on: December 6, 2016

Over 170 Tons of Dead Bunker Removed from Shinnecock Bay

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 5, 2016 

Town of Southampton – Office of Supervisor Jay Schneiderman

Over 170 Tons of Dead Bunker Removed from Shinnecock Bay

Since the fish kill event on November 13th, resulting from millions of pounds of live Manheden, commonly called “bunker”, exhausting their oxygen supply and dying in the Shinnecock Canal, Southampton Town has been busy removing dead bunker fish from the shores of Shinnecock Bay. To date over 342,000 pounds of the dead and decaying fish have been removed. 

Initially, the vast majority of the dead bunker had accumulated at the mouth of and within the Shinnecock Canal. Outgoing tides and the opening of the canal tidal gates carried the dead bunker into the bay where some sank and some were washed out through the Shinnecock Inlet. After a few days, decomposing fish from the bay bottom rose to the surface. Winds and currents moved these fowl smelling fish onto bay beaches and into marinas and coves. A meeting was assembled immediately by Supervisor Schneiderman that included the Parks Department, Highway Department, Municipal Works, Trustees, Bay Constables and DEC to address the initial fish kill and to plan for the inevitable cleanup. 

The Supervisor reached out to Suffolk County DPW to cycle the Shinnecock Canal lock system to draw in oxygenated water and to avoid a possible recurrence of the event on following days since the population of live bunker was predicted to remain quite high. 

Additionally, the Town enlisted the Town Trustees and the Parks Department employees to help with marina clean-up. C. Well Fish, a local commercial bunker fishing company, was contracted by the Town to assist with clean-up efforts on bay beaches. Initially, some of the dead bunker were harvested for bait for the Maine lobster industry. Some were transported to a private composting facility. The bulk of the remaining fish have gone to the Town’s Jackson Avenue Compost facility to be turned into compost eventually to be made available to the public. Private residents who are cleaning their own beaches are allowed to bring the fish collected to the Hampton Bays Transfer Station on Jackson Avenue at no cost. 

The Supervisor’s office had received a number of calls from residents concerned about the noxious smell. As of Monday, the Supervisor said, “Most of the problem areas have been addressed. The massive clean-up efforts and the natural occurrences of wind and tide are creating improving conditions.” “However”, he added, “Southampton Village still has a significant problem along Meadow Lane. Cleanup efforts in this area are being hampered by environmental constraints where fish have collected in the fragile coastal marshlands.” The Supervisor thanked William Caldwell, owner of C Well Fish, for his assistance as well as the Town Trustees, Bay Constables, Parks Department and Municipal Works for the team effort. For More Information, please, contact Connie Conway @ 631 283-6055

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