Portion of Anne Arundel County waterway opened for shellfish harvesting

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Jay Apperson

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jay.apperson@maryland.gov

Portion of Anne Arundel County waterway opened for shellfish harvesting

Bacteria levels decrease; portion of Parish Creek approved for harvesting

Baltimore, MD (October 11, 2016) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has reclassified a portion of a southern Anne Arundel County waterway to allow oysters and clams to be harvested.

A portion of Parish Creek, a West River tributary, has been reclassified from “restricted” to “approved” for shellfish harvesting. The change is based on a recent evaluation of potential pollution sources and testing of the waters and shellfish that showed decreased levels of indicator bacteria. The reclassification became effective yesterday, Monday, Oct. 10, through notice to regulating authorities and stakeholders.

The reclassification opens about 77 acres of waters to shellfish harvesting. Three oyster leases lie partially within the currently closed area, meaning that when the opening is effective all three, a total of about 30 acres, will lie entirely in approved waters. The headwaters of the creek remain closed to shellfish harvesting.

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.

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 and it has a longstanding policy to reopen areas to shellfish harvesting when water quality improves.

Shellfish have 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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