BALTIMORE, MD (November 19, 2012) – The Maryland Department of the Environment is closing portions of a Dorchester County waterway to shellfish harvesting. There are no active oyster bars or aquaculture operations in the affected areas.
The closure of portions of the Honga River is due to sampling results showing elevated levels of bacteria. The sampling was done to classify the area for a potential aquaculture site. The closure is effective Nov. 26.
The portions of the Honga River that will be closed include Slaughter Creek, Upper Keene Broads, Beaverdam Creek, Dunnock Slough, Dunnock Island Creek, Lower Keene Broads, Great Marsh Creek, Jacks Creek, Robinson Cove and Spicer Creek.
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.