BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Department of the Environment says it is closing shellfish harvesting in state waters because of potential water contamination from Hurricane Irene flooding and runoff.

The department says the closure begins Sunday and ends Sept. 3, but could be extended based on water-quality monitoring. The closure applies to Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake tributaries and coastal bays.

The closure applies only to the harvesting of shellfish such as oysters and clams and does not apply to fishing or crabbing.

The department says it is taking the action because shellfish, which are often eaten raw or partially cooked, are filter feeders and can concentrate disease-causing organisms if exposed to water contaminated with sewage or animal waste.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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