Legalize Kelp Farming in New York State

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Dear Senators Kaminsky and Stec, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, and Assemblymen Englebright and Smullen, Chair and Ranking Member of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation,

We write to ask that you support the advancement from Committee of Senate Bill S4028 (A4213 in the Assembly), also known as “The Kelp Bill,” sponsored by Senator Anthony H. Palumbo and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. 

The bill adds "and seaweed" to an existing statute that allows shellfish farming in the Peconic and Gardiners' Bays. This would open a valuable economic opportunity for further developing the 'blue economy' in this time of recession. Passage of this bill will have immediate benefits for local kelp farmers, who planted a crop for a three-year Stony Brook University feasibility study but are presently unable to harvest and sell their kelp without a legal framework applicable to their industry. 

Exploratory kelp farming projects in the area have already made steady and promising advances. The Stony Brook University study mentioned above was conducted with input from GreenWave, a Connecticut-based organization and international leader in the regenerative ocean farming industry. This study established the potential for seaweed farming to bring a broad spectrum of benefits to the people, the economy and the coastal ecosystems of the East End, while also contributing to climate change mitigation through the absorption of excess carbon. This work lays the foundation for a regenerative industry to emerge around kelp as a new crop in eastern Suffolk County.

Notably, this is a non-partisan issue: the bill received unanimous support from the Department of Environment’s Marine Resources Advisory Council in 2018 – an unusual rallying point for a group that rarely votes 10-0. 

In light of the wide range of benefits that kelp farming will provide, and the bi-partisan support, we urge you to advance The Kelp Bill and to support its passage in the Senate and Assembly. Thank you for your leadership and consideration. 

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Founder and CEO, Ocean Collectiv

Scott Bluedorn
East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee 

Kate Rossi-Snook
Environmental Advocate, Concerned Citizens of Montauk 

Mary Morgan
Cofounder, Drawdown East End

Diane Shapiro
Ambassador, Drawdown East End

Sean Barrett 
Cofounder, Dock to Dish Montauk 

Jenny Willis 
Climate Activist, Eat More Kelp 

Chef Trevor Swope 
Climate Activist 

Kim Knoll
Concerned Citizen 

Cassia Patel
Cofounder, Oceanic Global 

Lea d'Auriol
Cofounder, Oceanic Global 

Peter Strugatz
Concerned Citizen 

Chef Kerry Heffernan
Grand Banks, Pilot Brooklyn, Island Oyster, Drift In Restaurants, NYC