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NJ DEP: High Fecal Counts in Toms River Prompt Shellfish Harvesting Shutdown

This week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice suspending the harvesting of shellfish from the Toms River due to public health risks.

“Analysis of water samples indicate portions of the Toms River no longer meet the current shellfish growing water classification set forth in the Shellfish Growing Water Classification Rules,” wrote DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “To ensure public health is not at risk from shellfish that may have been subjected to pollution or other conditions that may render the shellfish dangerous to health, I hereby immediately suspend the harvest of shellfish from the [Toms River].”

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The ban on shellfish harvesting in the Toms River takes effect immediately according to the state order.

“Water sampling data collected by the department over the past three to four years indicated water samples from the waters in the Toms River Area do not consistently meet the fecal coliform standards for restricted waters,” Martin added.

According to the DEP, the shellfish ban includes mollusks only, meaning any species of oysters, clams, mussels, or scallops live in the shell, but not crabs, which are crustaceans in the shellfish family.

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A map released by the DEP shows the prohibited area of the Toms River which extends easterly through Island Heights and Ocean Gate.  Shellfish harvesting is also restricted in the lagoons of the Barnegat Bay. You can read the full DEP bulletin here.

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