Portion of the Wye River Reclassified for Shellfish Harvesting - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Portion of the Wye River Reclassified for Shellfish Harvesting

Posted: 09/25/2017 13:07:00 -04:00 Updated:

MARYLAND - The Maryland Department of the Environment has reclassified a portion of the Wye River in Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties to be approved for shellfish harvesting.

The reclassification is effective on Sept. 25, and includes about 1,976 acres. Some portions of the Wye River, Wye East River and Wye Narrows remain restricted to shellfish harvesting.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, a portion of the river has been reclassified from restricted to approved, but it is also designated as an oyster sanctuary. The reclassification does not change this designation. Sanctuaries are areas where the wild harvest of oysters is prohibited.

The reclassification of the portion of the Wye River is due to recent evaluations that showed a decrease in bacteria levels.

The Department of the Environment 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 which means they 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 so they must be harvested in waters that are not polluted.

The evaluation and classification of waters for shellfish harvesting is necessary to protect public health and ensure Maryland remains in compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

These designations apply only to the harvesting of shellfish (oysters and clams); they do not apply to fishing or crabbing.

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