Ruben Bess Valdez talks about the Shinnecock Shellfish Hatchery and pollution of the bays.

September 13, 2012 - Updated July 10, 2014

The people of the Shinnecock Indian Nation have been harvesting shellfish from the waters of what is now Southampton for millennia.

Tony Ernst, Sustainable East End co-producer  talks with Ruben Bess Valdez, of the Shinnecock Shellfish Hatchery about the challanges to developing the oyster business in the face of increasing
pollution of the waters surrounding the reservation.

July 10, 2014:

Here is an update on activities at Shinnecock:

According to the Southampton Press, as part of a federal aid package awarded last month for restoring reservation shoreline damaged during Superstorm Sandy, the tribe, will receive funds to repair the crumbling shellfish hatchery building.  

In addition to restoring the shoreline, other projects intended to dampen the effects of future storm-driven waves are being considered.  Restoring eelgrass beds in the near-shore waters of eastern Shinnecock Bay could act as a dampener for waves and storm surge, as could an oyster reef the tribe would like to create along the tidal shallows off its shores.

Listen here:
More information about the Shinnecock Nation and the shellfish hatchery is available at

More information about efforts to clean up the waters of the east end can be found at

Sustainable East End is produced by Tony Ernst and the program host, Francesca Rheannon.

Shinnecock Shellfish Hatcheries 
Back in the 1980’s, the Shinnecock Indian Nation ran a Tribally owned and operated shellfish hatchery which was successful for approximately 10 years, until much of Long Island was adversely affected by the Brown Tide that devastated much of the shellfish industry on the Island. The building from which this Tribal economic development project ran also was one of the first solar paneled buildings on Long Island and was noted for its high-energy efficiency. In the summer of 2004, a small group of determined Shinnecock Tribal Members decided it was time to reassess and evaluate the possibility of beginning a new shellfish hatchery based on re-seeding of the Shinnecock Bay with oyster spawn. With initial funding from the Long Island Community Foundation, and later on the Horace Hagedorn Foundation, Kraft Environmental Family Fund and finally, the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) DHHS, Washington, D.C., the Hatchery was re-born. Today, the Bay has produced thousands of succulent and healthy oysters as well as clams and other shellfish. With pending funding requests, there is a lucrative market for the Shinnecock shellfish whereby once re-established and operational will provide the Nation with a self-sustaining and culturally relevant source of Tribal income. In addition to being a source of economic development, the Hatchery will contain an environmental component of educating Shinnecock and non-Native students alike to the important field of aquaculture and related sciences


Radio producer at WPKN 89.5 FM - East End Ink, Sustainable East End, North Fork Works, Tidings from Hazel Kahan,