Environment

This Week in Pollution: Bacterial contamination closes 2,450 coastal acres to shellfish harvest

High levels of fecal bacteria have prompted state environmental officials to close some coastal and inland waters to harvesting oysters, clams and mussels. The 2,450 acres stretching across eight counties will be off-limits until further notice, state environmental officials announced.

The affected counties are Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, Carteret, Craven, Pamlico and Hyde.

The bacteria comes from human and animal waste that enters the stormwater, which then flows into the harvest areas. Over the past several years, above average rainfall along the coast has washed that waste into the water. The cumulative effects of that runoff emerged in recent testing that showed bacterial levels have exceeded safe levels.

In 2016, coastal precipitation was more than 15 inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office. In 2015, the coast was soaked as well, with 14 inches of rain above average.

Shellfish harvesting closures are common, though. And many of the prohibited areas eventually reopen. Last year, NC DEQ made 53 proclamations of harvest area closures, compared with 100 for re-openings.

The shellfish industry is key to North Carolina’s economy. In 2014, the commercial oyster harvest generated $4.5 million in revenue; clam sales exceeded $2 million in 2012. That same year, revenue for all shellfish harvested in North Carolina reached nearly $42 million.

Below is the list of the most recent closings:

One Comment


  1. Ted Lapis

    March 8, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Pig farms don’t want to invest in lagoons big enough to prevent overflows. Claiming “Acts of God ” is a cheap trick. NC has a very corrupt government.

Check Also

Very sneaky, cities — using science to buttress your buffer rules

T he bystanders and lobbyists who this afternoon ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Conference comes a day after new report lauds benefits of same-day registration The new line-up for [...]

North Carolina’s largest public school system may be warning of “enormous disruptions” without speed [...]

Carol Turner hadn’t lived in North Carolina long before last November’s election. A retired nurse, s [...]

Controversy over class-size requirements in early grades has emerged as the biggest issue facing Nor [...]

The post ‘Backroom politics’ brewing appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

The wisdom of the plan by Senate leaders to cut taxes by $839 million was called into question this [...]

Several years of tax cuts have not fixed our economic problems, and more of the same won’t either In [...]

Progress on “second chance” agenda marks a rare positive development in state policy wars There are [...]

Featured | Special Projects

Trump + North Carolina
In dozens of vitally important areas, policy decisions of the Trump administration are dramatically affecting and altering the lives of North Carolinians. This growing collection of stories summarizes and critiques many of the most important decisions and their impacts.
Read more


HB2 - The continuing controversy
Policy Watch’s comprehensive coverage of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law.
Read more