July 10, 2018
Shellfish Area Closures: There’s An App For That!
A new web application on the Division of Marine Fisheries website will
help fishermen find what shellfishing waters are open or closed to
harvest in real time.
One of the main missions of the division’s Shellfish Sanitation and
Recreational Water Quality Section is to make sure that all shellfish
harvested from North Carolina waters are safe to eat. To accomplish
this, the section regularly tests shellfishing waters for the presence
of fecal bacteria, surveys the shoreline area for the presence of
potential pollution sources, and conducts studies on point source
discharges of pollution, among many other things. All of the data
collected is then used to determine the proper classifications for state
shellfish growing areas.
Studies show that bacteria
concentrations in some shellfish harvesting areas can become elevated
following heavy rainfall, as fecal contaminants are washed from the
ground surface, through stormwater ditches, and into the estuaries. As
the shellfish feed, they can filter these fecal contaminants into their
digestive system and concentrate them to a level that could cause severe
illness if they are harvested and eaten raw. For these areas,
management plans have been developed that require automatic temporary
closures for shellfishing after certain rainfall thresholds are
exceeded. These temporary closures remain in place until water quality
sampling shows that bacteria concentrations have dropped to levels where
shellfish harvesting is once again safe.
closures and reopenings are conveyed to the public through written
proclamations that describe the boundaries of the temporarily closed
shellfishing waters. While these written proclamations will remain the
official, legal source for temporary closure descriptions, this new
application is intended to help fishermen to visualize the closures in
real time in a user-friendly way that is available on desktop computers,
tablets, and cell phones.
The public can access the map through the division’s website at this link.
It shows permanently closed shellfish harvest areas, as well as areas
temporarily closed due to rainfall and stormwater runoff or other causes
of short-term contamination like wastewater spills. Users can navigate
throughout the coast to view different closure areas or use the location
search tool in the top right-hand corner of the screen in order to
navigate directly to an area of interest.