After a closure because of the length of the summer heat, Georgia oyster season is scheduled to open as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.
For the past 10 years, the state Department of National Resources closed down commercial and recreational harvesting of oysters between June and September because the warmth of the water provides for a happy home for the Vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, which can be dangerous to people, if they ingest oysters with enough of a Vp buildup.
The standard for safety is a water temperature of 81 degrees, as applied by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
“Based on recent monitoring of shellfish growing areas, water temperatures have declined and are nearing the 81-degree Fahrenheit threshold,” Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fishery manager for the DNR’s Coastal Resources Division, said in a statement. “Coastal forecasts are showing a significant cooling trend, and we anticipate water temperatures to be below threshold levels by the middle of next week.”
The Coastal Resources Division advises people who are buying oysters, clams and mussels from seafood dealers and markets to, “only buy fresh in-shell or shucked oysters, clams or mussels from a licensed retail or wholesale food dealer that has product properly tagged with a harvest location, dealer name and date,” “only buy shellfish that have been refrigerated or iced at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or less,” not consume raw shellfish if you have a compromised immune system, and keep in mind that the risk of illness from shellfish consumption is dramatically reduced by thoroughly cooking.
For those interested, the only available area to harvest oysters in Glynn County is in Joiner Creek, which runs south of and roughly parallel to the Jekyll Island causeway. Most oysters harvested in the area come from McIntosh County waters. A fishing license is required for recreational harvesters.