Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (May 27, 2005) --Recent evaluation of shellfish harvesting waters in Monie Bay in Somerset County shows unacceptable bacteria levels in Monie Bay. As a result, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will close the area to harvesting effective May 30, 2005.

“The law requires the department to close areas that do not meet the strict water quality standards necessary for shellfish harvesting waters,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “This action is necessary to prevent potential harmful effects from consumption of shellfish exposed to pollutants. This action will assure the continuance of Maryland's excellent reputation for wholesome shellfish products and maintain compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.”

MDE monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for the harvesting of shellfish. These closures will impact molluscan shellfish harvesting (oysters and clams) only and do not apply to swimming, fishing, or crabbing in these areas.

A shoreline survey of potential sources of bacteria contamination has been completed in the area adjacent to Monie Bay and no direct pollution sources were identified. MDE will continue to investigate potential pollution sources and monitor shellfish water quality in the area.

Shellfish (oysters & clams) are filter feeders. They have the ability to filter the water around them and get food from the myriad of microscopic organisms found in the water column. If the waters are polluted, this filtering process can potentially include viruses or bacteria harmful to humans. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are not polluted.

> Monie Bay Shellfish Harvesting Closure Map