Good news for watermen: The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is opening the waters of Kent Narrows in Queen Anne’s County, to allow oysters and clams to be harvested for the rest of the 2018 season.
Kent Narrows is normally closed to shellfish harvesting because of its high volume of boats, marinas, and waterfront activities, which could harm the shellfish water quality. But with fewer boats on the water in the winter, the water quality impact is lessened.
Local watermen asked MDE and the Department of Natural Resources for a seasonal opening of Kent Narrows, and an investigation of water quality and shellfish tissue found it to be safe. They temporarily opened the Narrows last February as well as this February.
The opening will remain in effect until the end of the 2018 oyster season (March 31 or an alternate date determined by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources), when it will close again to shellfish harvesting.
The shellfish harvesting areas only apply to oysters and clams, not fishing or crabbing. It’s important to monitor shellfish water quality especially closely because they’re often eaten raw or partially cooked, and also because as filter feeders, they can collect a high concentration of disease-causing organisms from polluted waters.