Lottery results make a splash

October 23, 2012 by  

Just short drive from Bohemia, in the Great South Bay, the Town of Islip is launching a leasing program designed to meet three goals – restoring water quality and improve the health of the bay, contributing to the Town’s coffers, and opening up new entrepreneurial possibilities.

This past week, Town officials held a unique lottery to determine in which order interested individuals could obtain a lease on 1 to 5 acres of bay bottom suitable for aqua farming. In addition to participating in the lottery, leaseholders must have a viable business plan and secure necessary permits before they can seed, grow, and harvest shellfish on their underwater lot.

Town Councilman John Cochrane said:

“These small-business owners are partnering with the Town to help improve the water quality and shellfish population of the Great South Bay, which is the Town’s most precious natural resource.”

While growers can seed their beds with clams and scallops, the shellfish most prized for its water-filtering capacity and market profitability is the oyster. Once found in abundance in bay waters, over-fishing, coupled with increasing water quality deterioration, has drastically reduced the bay shellfish population.

The Town makes money through both the leasing of the acreage and through the sale of shellfish hatchlings or ‘seed’ from the Town’s East Islip hatchery. However, the benefits also extend to the broader community, such as the local seafood restaurant able to purchase fresh produce, or the print company that welcomes every entrepreneur in need of a new business card for a fledgling endeavor.