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Community-driven FLUPSY floats debut at Woodbine Marina, filtering harbor water and bringing leaders together for a common cause

“We all work and live and play on the harbor, and it’s really all of our responsibility to care for it.”

These words by former Northport Village Trustee Mercy Smith, who initiated the FLUPSY program that debuted yesterday at the Woodbine Marina, remind us why these innovative techniques to benefit our waterways are critical.

Oyster FLUPSY (Floating Upweller System) floats are used to grow and protect shellfish in open water until they are large enough to survive, at which time they are released and work to filter our waterways. The floats provide a constant heavy flow of water that passes over the shellfish, which are natural filter feeders and help to remove nitrogen from the harbor. Pumping the water through the oysters provides a much healthier diet and allows them to grow much faster than they would if they were sitting at the bottom of the bay, according to Barry Udelson, the Marine Resource Specialist and educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“Once they reach a certain size, we are able to put them out into the harbor. A legal size oyster, which is about three inches, can filter up to 50 gallons [of water] a day,” Barry explained. Multiply that by 100,000 oysters from this initial installation, and even more than that over the years, and you’re talking about large quantities of harbor water being filtered right here in Northport.

The newest floats at the Woodbine Marina, which includes two docks, are part of a sister program with the existing structure at Gold Star Beach in Huntington. The Northport project required the support of several key players, including the Northport Village Board, the Town of Huntington Board (with the initial sponsorship by Trustee Joan Cergol), the Huntington Harbor Master, Legislator William Spencer’s office and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The FLUPSY began as a way to celebrate the 125-year history of Northport Village. In 2018, then Trustee Mercy Smith spearheaded the 125th Anniversary Committee. In an effort to give back to the Northport community, Mercy and about thirty other committee members set a plan in motion to raise funds to support this FLUPSY program. “We wanted to create a project that would give back and have a lasting impact so that when the 150th anniversary came around, they would see the benefit from it,” Mercy told the Journal.

Mercy said the Village Board gave 200 percent to get this done, with countless resolutions, agreements and research needed to finalize the project. When she resigned from her trustee position, Trustee Dave Weber stepped up to lead the FLUPSY program. “When you move on to a new role and have to give up your baby, it’s tough,” Mercy said at yesterday’s debut. “And I can’t think of anyone else who cares more about this harbor and cares more about this project than Dave, and I have the utmost confidence in him and his leadership to carry this forward.”

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