Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays

Peconic Bay Scallop Technical Review Committee Provides Update on the 2019 Adult Bay Scallop Die-Off

February 21, 2020


In light of the recent information released regarding the work led by NYSDEC and the Marine Animal Disease Lab at Stony Brook University, the Peconic Bay Scallop Technical Review Committee would like to give the following update on our on-going investigations concerning the 2019 adult bay scallop die-off:

As noted in the January 31 NYSDEC press release, the parasite discovered in scallops sampled from two locations in the Peconic is troubling but is not a human health concern. With this news, it is the Committee’s recommendation to conduct further investigation to determine the spatial extent of this parasite to better understand the impact that it may have on the scallop population. Additional sampling extending beyond the Peconic Estuary may be warranted pending these results. As part of this recommendation, the Committee also recognizes that additional resources are required for this increased sampling effort to be successful, and thus, support any allocation of funds to the Marine Animal Disease Lab to conduct bay scallop disease diagnostic testing and research.

While this new parasite gives the community great pause, we should be mindful that the parasite-driven mortality is often worsened by a combination of stressors, such as rapidly increased water temperatures, sustained high water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, and predation. While this infection may lead to an increased rate of mortality in scallops, the underlying environment is still very much a significant factor in this die-off event. This highlights two important points; First, this shines light on the value of maintaining robust and diverse water quality monitoring programs that allow a retrospective assessment of events such as these. Second, maintaining a thriving, vibrant fishery, such as the iconic Peconic Bay scallop requires that we maintain focus on improving the underlying water quality issues of the region. Both require investment and both are necessary, particularly in light of our changing climate.

It is clear more research is needed to fully understand the extent of this infection, the influence of increasingly stressful environmental conditions, and the long-term impacts that this tragic die-off will have on the scallop population as well as those that depend on the fishery for their livelihood. The Peconic Bay Scallop Technical Review Committee will continue to collaborate with researchers and resource managers across the region to develop recommendations on next steps for monitoring, research and restoration that will be shared with agencies and the public.

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