Anne Arundel Co. Waterway Reclassified to Restrict Shellfish Harvesting

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Jay Apperson

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jay.apperson@maryland.gov

Anne Arundel Co. Waterway Reclassified to Restrict Shellfish Harvesting

Baltimore, MD (March 6, 2017) – The Maryland Department of the Environment is closing a portion of a waterway in Anne Arundel County for shellfish harvesting.

About 172 acres of the South River have been reclassified from approved for shellfish harvesting to “restricted,” effective today, March 6, 2017. A restricted classification means shellfish cannot be harvested from the area.

The reclassification is due to recent evaluations showing unacceptable bacteria levels in portions of the waterway. The Department of the Environment conducts regular surveys to identify potential pollution sources near shellfish harvesting waters, but the cause of an increase in bacteria levels is not always known, and no specific cause has been identified for the increased levels in these areas.

Information on shellfish harvesting areas is available on the department’s website. These designations apply only to the harvesting of shellfish (oysters and clams) and do not apply to swimming, fishing or crabbing. Consumption advisories for recreationally caught fish and crabs can also be found on the department’s website.

The Department of the Environment monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for the harvesting of shellfish. The department is required to close areas that do not meet the strict water quality standards for shellfish harvesting waters and it has a longstanding policy to reopen areas to shellfish harvesting when water quality improves.

Shellfish are filter feeders with the ability to filter water and get food from microscopic organisms in the water. If the waters are polluted, this filtering process can concentrate disease-causing organisms associated with raw sewage and other sources, such as animal waste. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are not polluted.

These actions are necessary to protect public health by preventing harvest from the areas impacted and ensure Maryland remains in compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

 

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