BALTIMORE (February 11, 2000) – The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) has announced that it will re-open Kent Narrows in Queen Anne’s County to oyster harvesting, effective Monday, February 14, through the remainder of this year’s season, which ends March 31. The decision to re-open the waters to harvesting was based upon a recent review of water quality of the area and a bacteriological analysis of shellfish.
The Kent Narrows area (see map) is normally closed to harvesting during most of the year because of high boat traffic, which can pose a pollution threat from overboard discharges. Because boat traffic in the Narrows is typically lighter during the winter’s colder months MDE normally re-opens the area’s shellfish beds during that time, if environmental health standards are met.
Oysters and clams are filter feeders with the ability to filter water to get their food from various microscopic organisms. If the water is polluted, the filtering process can potentially cause the oysters to ingest bacteria and viruses that are harmful to humans. As a result, shellfish, which are often eaten raw or partially cooked, must come from waters that are not polluted.
MDE frequently monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for harvesting of oysters and clams. The department is required to close areas that do not meet the strict water quality standards for shellfish harvesting waters and has a long-standing policy to open areas to shellfish harvesting when water quality improves. These actions ensure continuance of Maryland's reputation for safe and wholesome seafood products and maintain compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
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