Kent Island Narrows Temporarily Opened for Shellfish Harvesting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Kent Island Narrows Temporarily Opened for Shellfish Harvesting

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KENT ISLAND, MD  - The Maryland Department of the Environment says it is temporarily reclassifying waters in the Kent Island Narrows in Queen Anne's County from closed to open to allow oysters and clams to be harvested.

The MDE say the change is effective Monday, March 16, 2015 and will remain in effect until the end of the 2015 oyster season as determined by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. At that time, officials say, the area will again be closed to harvesting.

DNR says the Kent Island Narrows are usually closed to shellfish harvesting due to the high volume of boats, marinas and onshore activities in the area with the potential to negatively affect shellfish water quality. However, during winter boating activities are minimal and the effect on water quality is reduced. 

Watermen from the area have been unable to travel far from the docks due to icy conditions in the Chesapeake Bay. DNR says an investigation of the water quality in the Kent Island Narrows shows that this area meets the strict requirements necessary for shellfish harvesting waters and for the direct harvest of oysters and clams.

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.

The MDE says 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.
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