Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (November 10, 2011) – The Maryland Department of the Environment is reclassifying three areas of water in Talbot County for shellfish harvesting.

Cummings Creek and a portion of a Blackwalnut Cove are approved for shellfish harvesting. The areas had previously been classified as restricted, meaning they were closed to harvesting. Both waterways are tributaries of Harris Creek. A recent evaluation showed decreased levels of bacteria in the waterways.

A portion of Broad Creek that was previously classified as approved is now classified as restricted. A recent evaluation showed elevated levels of bacteria in the waterway.

The reclassifications went into effect November 7 through notice to regulating authorities and stakeholders.

Knapps Narrows, Dogwood Harbor, the Northeast Branch of Harris Creek, the headwaters of Blackwalnut Cove and Broad Creek, and the closed safety zone for the Tilghman Island Waste Water Treatment Plant remain closed to harvesting.

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 Maryland maintains its reputation for safe and wholesome seafood products and remains in 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. 

A map of the area is available on MDE’s website. The website also includes a Shellfish Harvesting Waters Conditional Closure Log.