State waters to close to oyster harvest June 1

BRUNSWICK, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams announced Tuesday that Georgia's territorial waters will close to commercial and recreational oyster harvest effective 6 a.m. June 1 through midnight Sept. 30.

According to Dominic Guadagnoli, State Shellfish Program Manager for the DNR, "This closure ensures that Georgia meets new requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program to protect public health by implementing a Vp control plan," said  Dominic Guadagnoli the DNR's State Shellfish Program Manager in a statement.

Vp, a naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish, has higher concentrations during the months of the year when water temperatures are warm.

"During the months of June through September, estuarine water temperatures usually exceed 81 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a threshold temperature established by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program for determining risk associated with Vp. Since coastal Georgia water temperatures meet or exceed this threshold, DNR is implementing a Vp Management Control Plan," Guadagnoli explained. Other South Atlantic states will also be implementing similar controls to address their specific Vp management issues.

Summer is spawning season for oysters. May through September accounts for less than two percent of Georgia's annual reported oyster harvest, according to the DNR.

Vp illness typically occurs within three days. Symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever and chills.

Cooking oysters and other shellfish thoroughly generally destroys all bacteria, including Vp, according to the DNR.

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