BRUNSWICK — DNR Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that Georgia’s territorial waters will close to commercial and recreational oyster harvest effective 6 a.m. Friday through midnight on Sept. 30.
A similar closure occurred in 2011 under a state plant to control a is naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. It occurs at higher concentrations when when coastal water temperatures are warm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, most illness cases from Vibrio parahaemolyticus due to consumption of raw oysters are under reported. The onset of Vp illness generally occurs within three days and common symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever and chills. Thorough cooking of oysters and other shellfish will generally destroy all bacteria including Vp.
“This closure ensures that Georgia meets new requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a Vp control plan,” explained Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for the Coastal Resources Division.
He said the department expects few problems from the closure since most people don’t drag for oysters in the summer anyway.
The harvest of clams from approved areas will be permitted during the summer. “Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, claws are traditionally cooked with high heat – a process that kills the Vp bacteria,” Guadagnoli said.