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Oyster harvest closes Monday
Most people have refrained from eating oysters during warmer months, so the closure is not expected to have much effect. - photo by File photo

BRUNSWICK — Commissioner Mark Williams has announced that Georgia’s territorial waters will close to commercial and recreational oyster harvest effective 6 a.m. Monday through midnight Sept. 30.  

A similar closure occurred in 2014 to meet the requirements of Georgia’s Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) control plan.

Vp is naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. It occurs at higher concentrations during the months of the year when coastal water temperatures are warm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, most Vp illness cases caused by 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 generally will destroy all bacteria, including Vp.   

“This closure ensures that Georgia meets requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a Vp control plan,” said Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for the Coastal Resources Division. “We expect this closure to have little adverse impact on recreational and commercial oyster harvesters since most individuals refrain from eating freshly harvested oysters during the summer months when the combination of spawning and warm water makes oysters less desirable as seafood.”

The harvest of clams from approved shellfish harvesting areas will be permitted during the summer months.

“Unlike oysters, which are frequently consumed raw, clams are traditionally cooked with high heat — a process that kills the Vp bacteria,” said Guadagnoli.

For more information on the oyster-harvest closure, call 912-264-7218.

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