Whenever a National Weather Service Hurricane Warning is issued, all open areas (Approved/Conditionally Approved-open status) within the warning area are immediately closed to harvest. These precautionary closures remain in affect pending an evaluation of storm-related pollution impacts. Areas will be reopened when the Department determines that conditions are acceptable for the sanitary harvest of shellfish.
Open shellfish areas are also closed upon actual receipt of a 24-hour rainfall total of 4.0 inches or more. Shellfish water quality monitoring stations within the area are sampled for fecal coliform bacteria levels prior to re-opening. Additionally, Conditionally Approved areas in the open status are temporarily closed upon receipt of moderate amounts of rain and/or excessive river flows. Closure criteria are documented in area management plans and currently vary between 1.0 and 1.4 inches of rain per 24 hours. Conditionally Approved areas closed due to violation of management plan criteria remain closed for a minimum of 14 days following the pollution event. Shellfish water quality-monitoring stations located within or on the boundary of a closed Conditionally Approved area are sampled to determine fecal coliform bacteria concentrations prior to re-opening.