The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery will be established in 2013 as a community-wide project with the purpose of restoring shellfish populations in the local bays and ponds; educating students and locals of all ages on shellfish ecology and industry; and expanding an East End network of local shellfish restoration initiatives.
The first year Hatchery goals include: spawning the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea Virginica), of the Oyster Bay disease resistant strain, in early February in order to provide optimum entry into the growing season. Our hope is to spawn around 4 million oysters with a 25% survivorship to adulthood with the goal of one million oysters from that first Home spawn group. Each month from March to July or even later, the hatchery will spawn a million spat for distribution to different hatchery/nursery/restoration initiatives within Southampton Town waters. Our Home group will be raised from larvae to spat in the hatchery. Once they reach a reasonable size, the Home group will be raised in our onshore upwell systems and eventually transferred to a Floating Upwell System (FLUPSY) in North Sea Harbor. Once the Oysters reach adult size they will be placed in a designated area to create an oyster reef in North Sea Harbor. The Hatchery will also be working with Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s SOMAS program to raise Hard Clams (Mercenaria Mercenaria), to restore populations in western Shinecock Bay to help combat deteriorating ecological conditions that have led to an increase in occurrence of harmful algal blooms. The clams will be purchased as spat and raised in our onshore upwell systems and FLUPSY until they reach the required size for distribution into the bay.
The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery facility will include larvae rearing systems and algal growing systems. The hatchery will consist of eight 55 gallon tanks for initial growing of pre-set larvae. The post-set larvae will continue to grow in an airlift upwell and downwell systems within the hatchery. There will be a flow-through upwell/downwell system outside the hatchery that will handle spat. Our onshore systems will pull water from North Sea Harbor for use in the hatchery via a pipeline that will be placed under ground and go through the bulkhead of Conscience Point Marina; the exit pipe for the flow-through system will be placed next to the intake pipe. Along the bulkhead of North Sea Harbor there will be a suction powered FLUPSY. Further out in North Sea Harbor there will be two or three tidal FLUPSY’s or a solar powered suction FLUPSY.
A hands-on educational program includes working with Southampton High School students. Students will be collecting specimens for spawning. Some of the spawning will be done under the direction of Mr. Metzger at the new, state-of-the-art Marine Science Lab at Southampton High School. Students will also be assisting in the Hatchery and in the spat upwell program. Bridgehampton High School will be doing algal separations and culturing under the direction of Dr. Koch.
Middle School students and Elementary Classes will be using this facility in field trips to learn about the bivalves in this area. The Sea Scouts have already initiated a grant for in-class Arts and Science learning, relative to the hatchery.
We see this portable hatchery as a model for future hatcheries for small-scale commercial, restoration, and educational purposes. Board members, committee members and teams of volunteers will support our plans to help restock Southampton Town waters with millions of oysters and clams in the years ahead. Shellfish filter our waters and help keep them clean; they provide nutrients for other sea creatures and they help stabilize the bay bottom. With a solid fundraising plan and a strong Board to help realize this plan, we can create a sustainable hatchery, develop multiple upwell systems to expand our seeding efforts and provide educational outreach to our local schools.
Children need to understand the importance of Shellfish. Oysters were once a thriving and sustainable harvest for local baymen and recreational harvesters in our local waters. The Sea Scouts hope that by creating a deeper connection to our maritime history, we will generate more interest in the issues currently impacting the health and ecology of our bays today. We believe this plan is completely sustainable as restoration efforts and expanded seeding of our bays continues in future years.