Press Release

BALTIMORE (September 25, 2003) – Maryland watermen are once again permitted to harvest razor clams for bait.

On September 22nd, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) restricted the harvest of all shellfish because of concerns about possible contamination as a result of Hurricane Isabel. Today the department removed the restriction on harvesting razor clams for bait to provide relief to clammers economically impacted by the bay-wide closure.

The restriction on harvesting oysters and other clams for human consumption remains in effect.

To ensure that razor clams do not enter the food markets, watermen are required to dye the clams blue before they leave harvesting areas.

Clams may be taken in portions of the Miles River, the Choptank River, Harris Creek, Broad Creek and an area between Franklin Manor and Cedarhurst on the Anne Arundel County shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

Watermen should contact the Natural Resources Police at (410) 820-1313, eastern shore or (301) 645-0062, western shore for the specific boundaries of areas open to razor clam harvest.

Updated information regarding other areas closed due to the storm is encouraging. Reports received since Monday September 22 from Maryland Department of Environment field personnel and on going monitoring show that problems associated with sewage overflows and tides inundating areas served by on-site septic systems are beginning to die down. Due to the number of sewage by-passes and overflows, MDE is confident that the bay-wide closure, through Sunday September 28, 2003, to shellfish harvesting is the best precaution to assure public health protection.

Shellfish (oysters and clams) are filter feeders and can concentrate disease-causing organisms associated with raw sewage and other sources. Since the reports coming in from field offices indicate the effects from Isabel and the heavy rain from Monday night continue to dissipate, MDE anticipates that areas closed will be reopened effective Monday September 29, 2003.

The closure does not apply to fishing or crabbing.