Queen Anne’s County Waterway Reclassified for Shellfish Harvesting

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Jay Apperson

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jay.apperson@maryland.gov

Queen Anne’s County Waterway Reclassified for Shellfish Harvesting

Portion of Greenwood Creek now “conditionally approved” for harvesting of oysters and clams

BALTIMORE, MD (July 16, 2018) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has reclassified a portion of Greenwood Creek in Queen Anne’s County for shellfish harvesting.

About 130 acres of the creek have been reclassified from approved for shellfish harvesting to “conditionally approved.”  In areas that are conditionally approved, oysters and clams can be harvested at any time with the exception of any rain event of one inch or more, which requires that an affected area be closed for three days and then re-opened unless another rain event occurs during that time.

The change – which is effective today, Monday, July 16 – is based on a recent evaluation of the waters. 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 this area.

Other portions of Greenwood Creek farther upstream remain conditionally approved for shellfish harvesting, and Little Greenwood Creek remains closed to shellfish harvesting. Greenwood Creek empties into an area of Eastern Bay that is approved for shellfish harvesting. No shellfish leases are affected by this change.

The Department of the Environment monitors bacteriological water quality 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 have elevated bacteria levels, the risk is greater that pathogens may be present, and this filtering process can then concentrate any disease-causing organisms. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are within acceptable bacteria levels.

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

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

 

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