Claims Over Shellfish Fuel a Battle in the Bay
A dispute pits baymen on Long Island Sound who hand-rake for clams against a
shellfish company that uses dredge boats to mechanically harvest clams and oysters.
JUNE 30, 2017
The New York Times
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — The bounteous shellfish here in this hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island are so iconic, they were extolled by Cole Porter in his song “Let’s Do It,’’ with its line about oysters down in Oyster Bay doing it.
While the lyric connotes cozy relations between the famously fertile shellfish of this bivalve capital, feelings among shellfishermen themselves are decidedly less friendly.
Locals describe them as the clam wars, with two sides waging a public battle for decades over rights and practices in Oyster Bay Harbor, which remains the most productive shellfishing habitat in New York State.
The dispute pits the baymen who hand-rake for clams against the Frank M. Flower & Sons shellfish company, which uses dredge boats to mechanically harvest the clams and oysters it farms on a swath of 1,800 acres leased from the Town of Oyster Bay.