BALTIMORE, MD (March 26, 2010) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has determined that a portion of Brockanorton Bay in Worcester County will be closed for shellfish harvesting for part of the year but can remain open for harvesting during other months.
In the first application in Maryland of a “seasonally conditionally approved” classification, the waterway will be closed for the catching or storing of shellfish for the months of April through September, and will be open for those practices October through March.
The classification for the portion of Brockanorton Bay is effective April 1, 2010, and applies to about 360 acres of that waterway upstream of a line between Truitt Landing and Scotts Landing.
A recent evaluation of shellfish water quality showed that the area of Brockanorton Bay, which has been approved for shellfish harvesting, should be reclassified. MDE’s evaluation showed that bacteria levels from April through September were elevated, but that bacteria levels from October through March were not elevated.
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. These actions ensure continuance of Maryland’s reputation for safe and wholesome seafood products and maintain compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
Shellfish (oysters and clams) 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 viruses or bacteria that are potentially harmful to people. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are not polluted.
MDE will continue to monitor water quality in the area. A map of the area is available at http://mde.maryland.gov/documents/BrockanortonBayClosing.pdf
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