RECOMMENDED FORMULA FOR DELINEATING SHELLFISH AREA CLOSURE BOUNDARIES SURROUNDING MARINAS IN NORTH CAROLINA
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Areas adjacent to marinas frequently have elevated counts of fecal coliform bacteria. Although the bacteria themselves may not be harmful, they indicate the presence of feces from warm-blooded animals which may contain other pathogens. Bivalve shellfish, such as oysters and clams, filter feed thereby concentrating these pathogens in their tissue, and posing a potential health threat to consumers. For this reason, North Carolina automatically closes marina waters for shellfishing, and sets the closure boundary based on a formula that includes the marina type and the number of boat slips. Though the boundary delineation has been generally successful, it fails to include other parameters recommended by national guidelines. With increasing shoreline marina development, the current method may be challenged by the different stakeholders causing conflicts with regulators. Therefore, in collaboration with the North Carolina Shellfish Sanitation Section, I recommend a more comprehensive formula that will adequately protect human health, and also maximize areas open to shellfishing. This formula was developed by examining the effectiveness of numerous other state policies, and it was tested using North Carolina marina examples. In addition, it includes parameters for which actual data exist, or uses realistic assumptions in an attempt to avoid overly conservative closure areas.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Fecal coliform bacteria
North Carolina Shellfish Sanitation Section
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