On December 7, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation S.6532A/A7547A into law. This legislation allows Suffolk County to lease underwater lands for the purpose of Kelp and other seaweed cultivation. One hundred ten thousand (110,000) acres of underwater land in Gardiner’s and Peconic Bays will now be permitted for kelp aquaculture use.
According to the press release put out by by the Governor’s office, this legislation will “promote aquaculture in Gardiners and Peconic Bays.” The goal is to improve water quality and fish habitats as kelp is able to sequester Nitrogen. Additionally, cultivating kelp will help to strengthen the natural ecosystem.
Not only is kelp aquaculture a means for improving water quality, it may also have uses in the cosmetics and fertilizer industries. Kelp regularly grows from November to May, the classic “off-season” for northern Baymen, opening up economic possibilities for them as well. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, who sponsored the bill, commented, “Kelp, which is native to New York waters, plays an important role in the fight to restore the health of our waterways…The legislation will promote a growing industry that can help restore water quality and fish habitats on the East End while creating jobs for our traditional maritime industries.”
There are already viable Kelp aquaculture farms in New England. This legislation will allow Long Islanders the ability to ‘test the waters’ here. Assemblyman Thiele also stated, “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 to the state…this law will also create jobs for our maritime businesses.”
Several media mentions have been published about the newly signed legislation. A few are posted below along with text of the legislation.