Photo provided by Blue Island Oyster Company
Striving for a healthier bay
ISLIP TOWN—In the midst of widespread concerns about the future health of the Great South Bay and concentrated efforts to revive a
The company was founded in 1995 by Sayville-native Chris Quartuccio. After graduating from Sayville High School, Quartuccio went to college and moved into Manhattan. At the age of 30, however, he moved back to Sayville with the idea of getting involved in the seafood industry.
“I’d seen the ups and downs of the industry here on Long Island over the years,” said Quartuccio, who first started clamming on the Great South Bay at the age of 12. “The only thing I knew [at the time] was digging clams, so I would drive back and forth from Long Island to Manhattan and sell them to chefs.”
Quartuccio also began scuba diving for natural oysters in the Long Island Sound, and soon began developing a relationship with some of the city’s top chefs. Since then, the company has grown substantially to the point where it is now
Meanwhile, the public can visit the Blue Island Oyster Farm located at Captree State Park near the Fire Island inlet. The company offers weekend kayak tours around the facility – which opened in 2005 – throughout the season.
“Visitors can learn about the history, biology and ecology of oysters while surrounded by the native wildlife and scenery,” said Quartuccio. “They also learn how to shuck their own oysters. People who come are blown away.”
In an industry that once dominated the region in the late 19th through
“For decades, different businesses tried to reestablish the oyster industry in the Great South Bay,” said Quartuccio, who noted that Blue Island also helps provide other LI farmers with seeds to support the local industry. “The reason they failed is because they were growing farther east. There’s not enough water exchange in the middle of the bay to produce oysters – you really need to be as close to the inlet as you can get.”
Meanwhile, as the demand for oysters continues to grow around the country, Blue Island has focused its efforts on helping to preserve the overall health of the Great South Bay.
“As farmers, we really needed to present to the public in some way how we’re being affected by excessive use of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides,” said Quartuccio, who noted that much of the pollution and harmful brown tides in the bay are due to nitrogen from both septic tanks and lawn fertilizer running off into the waters. “These
To help raise awareness of these growing issues, Blue Island is promoting environmentally conscious lawn practices through Operation Blue Earth – which seeks to educate the public about the connection between land and water health.
Looking ahead, Quartuccio hopes to continue Blue Island’s success while helping to raise awareness to create a healthier, more sustainable bay that allows for the long-awaited return of the thriving Long Island oyster industry. Meanwhile, multiple fundraisers and events are planned in the near future to continue to spread the word about simple steps residents can take to improve the health of our precious waterways.
“Operation Blue Earth asks citizens along the South Shore to stop using harmful
For further information about the Blue Island Oyster Company, visit www.blueislandoyster.com.
To learn more about Operation Blue Earth, visit https://www.facebook.com/Operation-Blue-Earth-695979103834519.
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