SHELLFISH BEDS STATEWIDE TO REOPEN AT SUNSET FOLLOWING PASSAGE
OF WEEKEND NOR’EASTER
(15/P85) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection has lifted an Administrative Order that temporarily closed shellfish harvesting statewide as a precaution in anticipation of heavy rainfall from the weekend nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin, Commissioner Bob Martin announced today.
The beds were closed on Friday due to concerns about large volumes of stormwater creating poor water quality that could impact safe consumption of clams, oysters and mussels.
The DEP’s Bureau of Marine Monitoring recommended rescinding the harvest ban effective at sunset (6:37 p.m.) today because the rainfall impacts of the weekend nor’easter were much less severe than anticipated and because Hurricane Joaquin veered out into the ocean with no rainfall impacts on the state.
“I thank all members of the shellfish industry for their cooperation in the recent closure,” Commissioner Martin said. “We all share a common desire to be proactive when it comes to protecting public health.”
The DEP works with the New Jersey Department of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that shellfish are safely harvested in state waters. The DEP monitors, classifies and enforces shellfish regulations in 425,830 acres of estuarine beds and 295,857 acres of ocean beds.
The precautionary closure was initiated because bivalves in these beds such as clams, oysters and mussels are filter feeders that can accumulate harmful bacteria carried into waterways from the land by stormwater runoff.
The New Jersey Department of Health Food Safety Program regularly inspects shellfish processing plants to ensure they follow regulations that outline health and safety precautions. Shellfish samples are regularly collected from harvest areas, certified shellfish dealers and retailers for bacteriological examination.
The program oversees a certification program which requires all wholesale shellfish dealers to handle, process, and ship shellfish under sanitary conditions and maintain records verifying that the shellfish were obtained from approved areas. For a copy of the new Administrative Order, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/news.html