Waters closed to shellfish harvesting

Published 10:05 pm Monday, January 4, 2021

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Large parts of the James River and its tributaries have been closed to shellfish harvesting due to a large sewage spill in Newport News.

The closure, announced Monday evening, is effective Jan. 5-25. The emergency condemnation prevents shellfish harvesting in the closed area.

The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish. Due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from the area affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption, the state department of health stated. Such condemnations apply only to bivalve shellfish since they may concentrate bacteria and viruses from the water, and since their intestinal tract is often eaten raw.

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In Isle of Wight County, the affected waters include waters in and around the Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area, including Ragged Island Creek, Cooper Creek and Kings Creek. In Suffolk, it includes parts of the Chuckatuck Creek and Nansemond River. The James River between the James River Bridge and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel also is closed to shellfish harvesting.