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Q. Where does the County of Suffolk have the authority to issue leases for shellfish aquaculture?

A. The County has the authority to issue leases for shellfish aquaculture on or within the underwater lands in Peconic and Gardiners Bays, which were ceded to the County of Suffolk by the State of New York under ECL §13-0302.

Q. Can a lease site be located anywhere in the Peconic Estuary?

A. Leases must be located within the established Shellfish Cultivation Zone.

Q. Who must apply for a Suffolk County Shellfish Aquaculture Lease?

A. Any person who wishes to cultivate shellfish species on the underwater lands in Peconic and Gardiners Bays that were ceded to Suffolk County by New York State under ECL §13-0302. (Exception: See oyster grant owners cultivating oysters only, below.)

Q. Are leases and permits the same?

A. No, a lease authorizes a leaseholder access to a specific amount of acreage in a specific location; regulatory permits authorize the type aquaculture activities that may be conducted on or within the leased area. Shellfish farmers must obtain both before cultivating shellfish within the Shellfish Cultivation Zone.

Q. I am an Oyster Grant Owner and I am only interested in cultivating oysters. Do I need to participate in this program?

A. No, oyster grant owners who wish to cultivate oysters only do not need to obtain a lease from the County.

Q. Are there eligibility requirements for lease applicants?

A. Yes, all lease applicants must be at least 18 years of age (valid photo identification required) and a social security number or federal tax ID number; lease applicants must also satisfy at least one of the following edibility criteria:

  • Completion of a recognized course of study in shellfish aquaculture, marine science or related disciplines; technical training program
  • Prior shellfish aquaculture experience (two or more years) as an employee or apprentice
  • Prior experience (three or more years) as a commercial baymen and/or shellfisherman
  • Additional experience, not listed above, may be taken into consideration by the Department

Q. How many acres are included in each lease site?

A. Leases are 10-acre squares with a 10-acre buffer (lease size may vary for private oyster grants).

Q. Are lease applicants required to submit a shellfish cultivation plan with an application for lease?

A. Yes, all lease applicants are required to submit a shellfish cultivation plan, as well as an aquaculture business plan with their application.

Q. When may I submit an application for a 10-acre lease or a lease on my private oyster grant?

A. The County anticipates holding one lease application cycle per year starting in the beginning of January; applications must be submitted during the application period established by the Department of Economic Development and Planning, Division of Planning and Environment.

Q. Is every person who applies for a lease site location guaranteed a lease?

A. Lease issuance is at the discretion of Suffolk County. No applicant is guaranteed a lease site location in any given application cycle. If the acreage applied for exceeds the acreage available under the annual acreage cap limit, in any given year, the potential exists that not all applicants will receive a lease site location.

Q. How will the County determine which applicants will obtain a lease if the acreage applied for during an application cycle exceeds the acreage amount allocated for the year?

A. It may be necessary to conduct a Random Selection Process to determine which lease applicants will receive a lease during a given application cycle.

Q. Who is responsible for the cost of the required lease site boundary survey?

A. The applicant is responsible for the procurement and cost of the lease site boundary survey and boundary survey maps.

Q. What is the Random Selection Process?

A. The Random Selection Process

Q. I own a 30-acre oyster grant; am I able to apply for a lease that would cover all 30 acres?

A. Yes, private oyster grant owners are able to apply for a lease to cover either a portion or the entire parcel, provided the parcel is not within the 1000ft buffer.

Q. How much does an Aquaculture Lease cost?

A. The application fees and annual lease rental fee schedule.

Q. How long could it take to get a lease?

A. The Department estimates that it will take 12 months from the submission of application to the execution of lease execution. However, unforeseen issues during the application process extend this timeframe.

Q. How long is the term of lease?

A. Shellfish Aquaculture Lease Agreements have a term of 10 years, with an option to renew for an additional 10 years.

Q. Do I still need permits from the federal and/or state regulatory agencies if I have a Shellfish Aquaculture Lease with the County?

A. Yes, all leaseholders are required to obtain regulatory permits from relevant government agencies (i.e. Army Corps, NYSDEC, NYSDOS, USCG, etc.).

Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901