Press Release

BALTIMORE (October 15, 1998) -- After an annual review of shellfish harvesting waters in Harris and Broad creeks and some of their tributaries in Talbot County, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has reclassified them as approved for shellfish harvesting effective October 19.

As a result of the department's action, main stems of Harris, Broad, and Edge creeks are approved for shellfish harvesting (see attached diagrams). The newly reclassified areas were previously classified as "conditional," which means that they were closed to shellfish harvesting for three days after one or more inches of rain fell in the area within 24 hours. The areas are reopened after three days unless another rainfall event occurs. This action does not affect harvesting of finfish or crabs which may be taken in season, unless other advisories are in effect.

Cummings Creek and the Northeast Branch, a small tributary of Harris Creek, and San Domingo Creek, a small tributary of Broad Creek, remain restricted to shellfish harvesting because of unacceptable bacteria levels.

Oysters and clams are filter feeders. They have the ability to filter the water around them to get their food from the various microscopic organisms found in the water column. If the water is polluted the filtering process can potentially include bacteria and viruses harmful to humans. Shellfish, which are often eaten raw or partially cooked, must come from waters that are not polluted. MDE monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for harvesting of shellfish.

MDE is required to close areas that do not meet the strict water quality standards necessary 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 wholesome seafood products and maintain compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

For more information regarding the boundaries of the reclassified areas, contact Lt. Randy Witter or Capt. Steve Vaughn of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police at (410) 260-8880. Department of Natural Resources Police personnel will be available daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.