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Long Island Regional Economic Development Council Announces Expansion of Bay Scallop Restoration Project to Strengthen Marine-Based Economy

(June 15, 2012)

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council Announces Expansion of Bay Scallop Restoration Project to Strengthen Marine-Based Economy

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams today joined with the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) to announce that CCE has signed its contract with the state and is moving forward with the first stages of the $182,900 award it received as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative. The economic development resources will assist in the expansion of the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project in Suffolk County, which focuses on restoring the bay scallop population on Long Island to both protect the eco-system and generate marine-related economic activity.

“Suffolk County’s marine-based businesses are vital to the overall health of our regional economy. I applaud the efforts of the CCE and its partners to revive the bay scallop population as it will help both the environment and Long Islanders wallets,” said Kevin Law, President of the Long Island Association and Regional Council co-chair. “The partnership between the Council and CCE will allow us to grow our economy now while ensuring one of the area’s traditional industries not only survives, but flourishes once again.”

“A diverse economy is a strong economy, and by supporting the CCE’s Bay Scallops Restoration Program we are adding another revenue stream that will generate job opportunities for Long Islanders,” said Stuart Rabinowitz, President of Hofstra University and Regional Council co-chair. “The Regional Council understands the history of Suffolk County’s water-based economy and is working hard to ensure a bright future by rejuvenating marine agribusinesses and fostering collaborative efforts that work in the best interests of our communities.”

In 2005 Cornell Cooperative Extension's Marine Program and Long Island University partnered with Suffolk County to create the largest scallop spawner sanctuary to restore the famous Peconic Bay Scallop. CCE will utilize the Regional Council award from Empire State Development to help expand the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration project to allow for increased seed production, deployment of spat collectors to increase the number of seeds collected and planted, and educating shellfish companies, including in-field demonstration, on how to successfully grow bay scallops and conduct a marketing event.

“Thanks to the support of the Long Island Regional Economic Council and the Empire State Development Corp, CCE of Suffolk can continue to play a vital role in sustaining this heritage industry,” said Vito Minei, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

The economy of Suffolk County derives hundreds of millions of dollars from marine-related industries and from its diversified agriculture/horticulture industries, all of which benefit from the research –based information and assistance provided by CCE. The Peconic Bay Scallops Restoration Project was identified and supported by the Long Island Regional Council as a Transformative Project in recognition of the importance of increasing the scallop stocks in the Peconic Bay of Long Island. The stock was in decline for years and innovative efforts by Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County during the past decade have resulted in increased scallop landings, numerous jobs in the industry and $3 million in annual regional economic activity.

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. As part of that process, the Cornell Cooperative Extension was awarded $182,900 from Empire State Development’s Economic Development Fund.

“Agriculture is one of the cornerstones of New York’s economy, and Suffolk County’s scallop industry is a traditional agribusiness that we want to become a leader in the region’s marine-based economy once again,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “This is a clear demonstration of how the Regional Council process successfully identifies local industries for the state to support and help grow, which will provide a boost the local economy and put Long Islanders back to work.”

The Regional Economic Development Council Capital Fund Program and the Empire State Economic Development Fund (EDF) together make available $170 million of capital grant funding for the State‘s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, which helps drive regional and local economic development across New York State in cooperation with ten Regional Economic Development Councils. Funding is available for capital-based economic development initiatives intended to create or retain jobs; prevent, reduce or eliminate unemployment and underemployment; and/or increase business activity in a community or region. In addition, $4 million from the Urban and Community Development Program is reserved for the development of mixed-use properties in highly distressed areas or economic development zones and central business district or commercial area improvements.

Senator Kenneth P. Lavalle said, “Restoration of the scallop beds is critically important to the marine-related economy of our region and development of our burgeoning aqua culture industry. I commend Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Adams and the Long Island Regional Council for their support of the CCE’s commitment to preserving the environment and spurring local economic growth.”

Assemblyman Dan Losquadro said, “Aquiculture has been and continues to be an important part of the Long Island economy. It is my sincere hope that this project will make the Peconic Bay Scallop a driving force in our economy once again.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “The grant funds awarded by Governor Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative will serve as an economic stimulus to the Suffolk County economy. Increasing the scallop stock in the Peconic Bay will have lasting effects for the eco-system as well as ensure the employment of Long Island Baymen. I applaud the Governor and the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for their support of this transformational project.”

Prior to the mid-1980's, Peconic bay scallops supported a commercial fishery valued at $2-4 million. Including economic multipliers, the fishery contributed more than $10 million to the local economy. For 400-600 full-time baymen, bay scallops were their primary source of income. In 1985, and again in 1995, a series of brown tide algal blooms destroyed the Peconic bay scallop populations and pushed them to the brink of extinction. With the disappearance of the scallop fishery most baymen had to leave the water - and had to find other jobs, retire or move out of state.

Bay scallop restoration efforts were started in 1986 by local baymen, and Cornell Cooperative Extension and Long Island University have been leading these restoration efforts now for over 20 years. These restoration efforts have contributed to a huge increase in scallop populations. LIU and Cornell scientists have documented a 1300% increase in scallop populations in Orient Harbor, the site at which we have concentrated our scallop plantings, as well as large increases in other nearby areas.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County is the largest extension association in the state, employing more than 200 educators, scientists and support staff at educational centers, research sites and youth camps throughout the county. CCE helps preserve Suffolk County’s vast heritage, protect its sensitive eco-systems, promote healthy lifestyles and promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). CCE programs impact thousands of businesses, schools and individuals each year with the help of more than one thousand volunteers. CCE Suffolk is supported in part by county, state and federal contracts and agreements with Cornell University.

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.nyworks.ny.gov.

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