Good news for all scallop lovers! To support the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Suffolk County’s growing Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project, the Empire State Development’s Board of Directors recently awarded them with an $182,900 grant. CCE will use this money to continue their mission of preserving our county’s heritage and eco-systems, particularly with respect to the scallops in our waters.
Since its inception in 2005, the goal of the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project has been to restore the scallop to the Peconic Estuary system to their former glory. They almost became extinct after a series of brown tide algal blooms destroyed the populations in the bay in 1985 and 1995. Prior to these disasters, Peconic Bay scallops supported a commercial fishery valued at $2-4 million ($10 million accounting for economic multipliers). Clearly, the industry is vital to our region.
CCE and Long Island University have since been leading successful restoration efforts, including the creation of the largest-ever scallop spawner sanctuary within the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project. On their website, they explain, “The premise was to put out millions of first-year scallops in a condensed area to foster an effective spawn. This spawn would then travel through the bays in tidal currents and spread throughout the Peconic Estuary.” These methods have proven to be effective.
Thanks to Long Island University and Cornell University scientists, there has been a 1300% increase in scallop populations in Orient Harbor, where the scallop plantings are concentrated. Other nearby areas have had similar success. Moreover, in a time of economic troubles, the project has successfully regenerated $3 million in annual regional economic activity in Suffolk County. This also includes the creation of new jobs.
This funding for CCE was awarded as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative, which was created to stimulate economic development and create jobs. The councils, organized by region, are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government, and non-governmental organizations. Governor Cuomo said of this initiative, “We must change the way we engage in economic development planning and execution. Those working at the local level know their area economies best…”
The award was announced by Kenneth Adams, CEO and Commissioner of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development (ESD) President. ESD is the main economic development agency in New York. Their mission is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, create new jobs, increase revenues, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. “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,” noted Vito Minei, Executive Director of CCE.
CCE is a non-profit agency, established in 1917 and affiliated with Cornell University. Their team of educators, researchers, specialists and support personnel aim to preserve Suffolk County’s heritage and eco-systems, as well as promote community service and research-based education, particularly for youth. In partnership with the government, Cornell University, non-profits, and community groups, CCE works directly with farmers, fishermen, and other locals to promote the economic health of vital heritage industries in our area. From restoring the scallop populations to creating educational opportunities, CCE is doing wonderful work in our community.
To learn more about CCE, visit ccesuffolk.org.