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Wide Swath of Shellfish Waters Closed

MOREHEAD CITY – The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries closed 2,450 acres of water to shellfish harvest after the areas did not meet bacterial water quality standards, the agency announced Tuesday.

The closures are the result of sanitary surveys and reviews from the last five years of shellfish growing areas. The division said that the past three of five years had higher than usual rainfall, washing pollution and human and animal waste into the water bodies.

The division said it will continue to monitor the areas and said the areas could reopen in the future if conditions change.

Proponents of stormwater management, including the North Carolina Coastal Federation, say natural options such as swales and rain gardens can reduce the amount of harmful pollution and bacteria from reaching waters and help limit the number of shellfish closures.

In the Queens Creek area near Swansboro in Onslow County, 93 acres were closed just as the town passed a watershed restoration plan Monday designed to reduce water pollution, the Jacksonville Daily News reported.

Fifty acres in Stump Sound in Pender County have been reopened after 2016 sampling led to closure of the site.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.