Governor Signs Bill Allowing Kelp Farming in East End Waters

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a bill that will now allow the cultivation of kelp on Suffolk County aquaculture leases in Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays.

After several successful pilot programs growing kelp in Peconic and Gardiner’s Bays, this law, sponsored by State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and State Senator Todd Kaminsky, amends state law that had ceded underwater lands to Suffolk County for the purpose of shellfish cultivation to allow kelp cultivation there as well.

Researchers have long believed that oyster cultivation and kelp cultivation on these aquaculture leases would be a beneficial way to keep these areas productive in all seasons of the year — kelp grows best in cold weather, when oysters are dormant.

Leases for kelp cultivation, or kelp and oyster cultivation, would only be allowed in areas designated by Suffolk County as “kelp cultivation zones.”

“Kelp, which is native to New York waters, plays an important role in the fight to restore the health of our waterways,” said Mr. Thiele, who announced Tuesday, Dec. 7 that Governor Hochul had signed the bill. “Kelp also serves as a natural habitat for fish and shellfish in our state’s waters. The cultivation of kelp is a growing industry with significant economic, health, and environmental benefits. As New York continues to fight climate change and nitrogen pollution, sustainable kelp farming can provide substantial environmental benefits for the state. In addition to the environmental benefits, this new law will also create jobs for our maritime businesses.”

I have pursued the enactment of this legislation for years as studies have highlighted the benefits of kelp in removing nitrogen from our waters,” he added. “The cultivation of this environmental and economically viable product will promote a growing industry that will help restore water quality and fish habitats on the East End while creating jobs for our traditional maritime businesses. I am excited that New York will now join other states that have already established kelp and commercial seaweed aquaculture programs. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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