The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) has closed nearly 2,500 acres of coastal waters to shellfish harvesting. The ban came at the beginning of March, after the waters failed to achieve required bacteriological standards. 
The closings will almost certainly have an impact on commercial shellfish harvesting along North Carolina’s coast, especially within the Lockwood Folly River region. According to the Port City Daily’s interview with the NCDMF, the Lockwood Folly River is a critical area for commercial shellfish operations. 
“We certainly realize that, and have talked to those individuals in that region. We are continuing to monitor the area and hope that reopening the area in the future is possible.” 
Three of the last five years saw above –average rainfall for the region, which according to the Daily News and the Port City Daily, has resulted in excessive stormwater runoff that led to the closure. Stormwater contains a cocktail of pollutants that can include animal and human waste, motor oil, and fertilizer. Pathogens that make their way to waterways can get inside shellfish, making them unfit for human consumption.  
“That’s the public health aspect of what we’re trying to do here,” Shannon Jenkins a representative for the NCDMF said to the Port City Daily. “People can become ill. That’s why we have to meet the satisfactory water quality.” 
Typically, the closure of a waterway lasts for at least one year. In nearby Pender County, 50 acres recently reopened to shellfish harvesting at the beginning of March.  
Along the North Carolina Coast, the NCDMF operates nearly 1,000 testing stations that will help track water quality in the compromised areas. In public statement by the NCDMF, the agency will continue to monitor all closed shellfish areas, and will reopen to commercial and recreational fishing if conditions change in the future.
North Carolina shellfish harvesting area closure maps can be viewed here.
 Haley, Christina. More than 2,000 acres of North Carolina’s coast closed to shellfish harvesting. Port City Daily, March 11, 2017. Web. http://portcitydaily.com/2017/03/11/more-than-2000-acres-of-coastal-waters-close-to-shellfish-harvesting-due-to-water-quality-standards/  Pippin, Jannette. More than 2,000 acres of coastal waters close to shellfish harvesting. JD News, March 2, 2017. Web. http://www.jdnews.com/news/20170302/more-than-2000-acres-of-coastal-waters-close-to-shellfish-harvesting
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