The primary goal of the Shellfish Sanitation Program is to ensure that shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) and the areas from which they are harvested meet the health and environmental quality standards provided by federal guidelines and state regulations.
The secondary goal of the program is to promote water quality restoration of state waters designated for the harvest of shellfish.
The shellfish-monitoring program provides the database that is used in conducting a comprehensive evaluation of each shellfish growing area. Evaluations of growing areas, which meet National Shellfish Sanitation Program requirements are conducted annually. Routine bacteriological monitoring and subsequent laboratory analyses of water quality from approximately 465 strategically located sample sites are conducted monthly.
Monitoring is based on a systematic random sampling methodology in which coastal shellfish growing area surface waters are sampled in accordance with a pre-established schedule, thereby assuring that a statistically representative cross-section of meteorological, hydrographic, and/or pollution events will be included in the data set. Monitoring sites are established at locations representative of variable water quality within non-Prohibited classified shellfish areas. Locations are sited with the intent of determining compliance with existing State shellfish regulation water quality standards. Individual monitoring sites are typically representative of a water reach extending in the directions of tidal flow to the closest adjacent monitoring sites. Resulting laboratory analyses detail physical and bacteriological data that are used to classify shellfish growing waters. Additional bacteriological sampling is conducted in association with conditional area and precautionary closures. All standards, monitoring methodology, and laboratory analyses comply with guidance set forth in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance.
For shellfish closure updates, call 1-800-285-1618.