Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (May 14, 2013) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has reclassified San Domingo Creek in Talbot County to allow oysters and clams to be harvested under certain conditions.

San Domingo Creek has been reclassified as conditionally approvedfor shellfish harvesting, meaning that oysters and clams cannot be harvested for three days following a rainfall event of one inch or greater over 24 hours but can be harvested at all other times. San Domingo Creek, a tributary to Broad Creek, had been closed to shellfish harvesting. The affected area was reclassified effective yesterday, Monday, May 13, through notice to regulating authorities and stakeholders. The area is largely leased 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. 

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.