FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Portion of Fishing Creek in Anne Arundel County Opened For Shellfish Harvesting
Bacteria levels decrease; area “approved” for harvesting starting March 31
BALTIMORE, MD (March 28, 2014) – The Maryland Department of the Environment is reclassifying a portion of Fishing Creek in Anne Arundel County to allow oysters and clams to be harvested.
The portion of Fishing Creek that is being reclassified from “restricted” to “approved” for shellfish harvesting is downstream from Arundel on the Bay. The headwaters of Fishing Creek remain classified as restricted, meaning that they are closed to shellfish harvesting.
The change – which is effective Monday, March 31 – is based on a recent evaluation of potential pollution sources and testing of the waters and shellfish that showed decreased levels of indicator bacteria. It will open about 98 acres of waters to shellfish harvesting, including about seven acres of oyster leases.
Information on shellfish harvesting areas is available on MDE’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 MDE’s website.
MDE 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.