CHARLES COUNTY WATERMAN DANIEL BOWLING PLEADS GUILTY TO VIOLATING OYSTER HARVESTING BAN IN AREA CLOSED DUE TO HIGH BACTERIA LEVELS

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A waterman works a legal area to harvest oysters on the Patuxent River. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo.

CHARLES COUNTY WATERMAN DANIEL BOWLING PLEADS GUILTY TO VIOLATING CLOSED OYSTER HARVESTING AREA

Daniel Warren Bowling, 50, of 14950 Deer Haven Place, Newburg, Md., was cited on Dec. 21, 2018 by NRP Officer Luke Santere for harvesting oysters from an area closed to the public due to unsafe bacteria levels that can cause serious illness to consumers who eat oysters harvested from closed areas.

Notice to commercial watermen and to the public contained a stern warning against shellfish harvesting due to increased and “unacceptable” levels of bacteria in the area of Charles County.

With LaPlata attorney John Edward Ray representing him, in a plea deal with Charles County States Attorney Anthony Covington in District Court, Bowling entered a guilty plea on March 20, 2019. THE DEAL: A verdict of Probation Before Judgement with unsupervised probation for three years.

Oyster-harvesting-banned-in-areas-marked-in-red-on-this-Maryland-Dept.-of-Environment-map

SOUTHERN MARYLAND WATERWAY RECLASSIFIED FOR SHELLFISH HARVESTING DUE TO BACTERIA LEVELS

Portion of Wicomico River in Charles, St. Mary’s counties closed to harvesting

BALTIMORE, MD. – The Maryland Department of the Environment has reclassified a portion of the Wicomico River in Charles and St. Mary’s counties for shellfish harvesting.

About 2,470 acres of the river have been reclassified from approved to “restricted,” meaning the area is closed to shellfish harvesting.

About 2,470 acres of the river have been reclassified from approved to “restricted,” meaning the area is closed to shellfish harvesting.

If the waters have elevated bacteria levels, the risk is greater that pathogens may be present, and this filtering process can then concentrate any disease-causing organisms.

The change – which is effective, Monday, November 5, 2018, – is due to recent evaluations showing unacceptable bacteria levels in portions of the waterway. The Department of the Environment conducts regular surveys to identify potential pollution sources near shellfish harvesting waters, but the cause of an increase in bacteria levels is not always known and no specific cause has been identified for the increased levels in these areas.

Shellfish are filter feeders with the ability to filter water and get food from microscopic organisms in the water. If the waters have elevated bacteria levels, the risk is greater that pathogens may be present, and this filtering process can then concentrate any disease-causing organisms. Oysters and clams are often eaten raw or partially cooked and must come from waters that are within acceptable bacteria levels.

The Department of the Environment monitors bacteriological water quality and conducts pollution source surveys to determine which areas are safe for the harvesting of shellfish. The department is required to close areas that do not meet the strict water quality standards for shellfish harvesting waters and it has a longstanding policy to reopen areas to shellfish harvesting when water quality improves.

These actions are necessary to protect public health by preventing harvest from the areas affected and ensure Maryland remains in compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

Oyster-stew-at-Chincoteaqe Island. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

BACTERIA IN OYSTERS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS

FROM THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION:

People at Greater Risk

People who drink alcoholic beverages regularly may be at risk for liver disease, and, as a result, are at risk for serious illness or death from consuming raw oysters contaminated by the bacteria.

In addition, diabetes, cancer, stomach disease, iron overload disease, or any illness or medical treatment that weakens the body’s immune system can also put individuals at high risk for Vibrio vulnificus infection.

Am I Infected?

Potentially life-threatening to most people, symptoms of Vibrio vulnificus infection occurs within 24 to 48 hours of ingestion and may include symptoms such as sudden chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shock and skin lesions. People with certain medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes or liver disease can die from infection within two days. Anyone showing signs of these symptoms after eating raw oysters should seek medical attention immediately and inform the health care professional on duty that they’ve eaten raw oysters.

Reducing the Risk

Vibrio vulnificus bacteria is not a result of pollution, so although oysters should always be obtained from reputable sources, eating oysters from “clean” waters or in reputable restaurants with high turnover does not provide protection.

Eating Oysters

At Restaurants:

Order oysters fully cooked.

Cooking at Home:

When you purchase oysters, the shells should be closed. Throw away any oysters with shells already opened.

In the shell: After the shells open, boil live oysters for another 3-5 minutes. (Use small pots to boil or steam oysters. Do not cook too many oysters in the same pot because the ones in the middle may not get fully cooked. Discard any oysters that do not open during cooking).

In a steamer: Add oysters to water that is already steaming and cook live oysters for another 4-9 minutes.

Shucked Oysters:

Boil or simmer shucked oysters for at least 3 minutes or until the edges curl.

Fry at 375 degrees for at least 3 minutes.

Broil 3 inches from heat for 3 minutes.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

FROM MARYLAND DNR GUIDEBOOK FOR WATERMEN:

Shellfish filter many particles from the surrounding water they live in. Unfortunately, some things in the water, like bacteria and viruses, can be harmful.

There are currently seven areas closed to oyster harvest that are not depicted on the shellfish closure area maps contained in this book. These are temporary closures requested by the County Oyster Committees of Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Charles Counties. The areas were marked with buoys. It is a shellfish harvester’s responsibility to be aware of these and all closed areas prior to harvesting. Violations of shellfish laws may result in a criminal conviction, fine and/or a suspension or revocation of your tidal fish license by a Court or the Department of Natural Resources.

All or part of these areas may be opened in the future in consultation with the respective County Oyster Committee. The opening of these areas and any additional closures will be announced via public notice and be available at: http://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/notices.aspx.

Swan Point (PSFA 9 (NOB 2-9): Upper Chesapeake Bay)

The section of PSFA 9 being closed is: All of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay enclosed by a line beginning at a point defined by Lat. 39°7.690’ N, Long. 76°18.868’ W; then running 5° True to a point defined by Lat. 39°8.482’ N, Long. 76°18.772’ W; then running 111° True to a point defined by Lat. 39°8.258’ N, Long. 76°18.038’ W; then running 111° True to a point defined by Lat. 39°8.114’ N, Long. 76°17.546’ W; then running 170° True to a point defined by Lat. 39°7.603’ N, Long. 76°17.432’ W; then running 272° True to a point defined by Lat. 39°7.623’ N, Long. 76°18.167’ W; then running 277° True to the point of beginning.

Windmill Point (PSFA 136 (NOB 20-3): Wicomico River (West))

The section of PSFA 136 being closed is: All of the waters of the Wicomico River enclosed by a line beginning at a point defined by Lat. 38°18.801′ N, Long. 76°50.937′ W, then running 356° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°19.096′ N, Long. 76°50.961′ W, then running 77° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°19.146′ N, Long. 76°50.684′ W, then running 166° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°18.842′ N, Long. 76°50.590′ W, then running 261° True to the point of beginning.

Middle Ground (PSFA 136 (NOB 20-3): Wicomico River (West))

The section of PSFA 136 being closed is: All of the waters of the Wicomico River (West) enclosed by a line beginning at a point defined by Lat. 38°17.673′ N, Long. 76°50.397′ W, then running 302° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°17.718′ N, Long. 76°50.487′ W, then running 51° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°17.881′ N, Long. 76°50.233′ W, then running 169° True to a point defined by Lat. 38°17.779′ N, Long. 76°50.208′ W, then running 235° True to the point of beginning.

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