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NJ: Shark River shellfish beds pose health danger

, @DanielRadelAPP5:04 p.m. EDT November 3, 2016

NEPTUNE – Acres of shellfish beds in Shark River have been suspended from harvest after high levels of fecal coliform have been detected, state officials have announced.

The shellfish are not safe for human consumption because of the bacteria level.

RELATED: What’s contaminating the Navesink?

The beds however, were already classified as restricted, which meant that no harvest of shellfish could occur without post-harvest processing such as depuration.

There are currently no commercial or recreational harvesters of shellfish on the river.

New data indicated that the waters no longer met the restricted classification and were downgraded to prohibited, said Larry Hajna, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection

The suspension affects 266 acres total: 122 acres in the northern section of the river, and 144 acres in the western section of the river.

The state Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring samples and analyzes water from shellfish growing areas throughout the state for fecal coliform levels.

Ten water stations near the the beds were found to have high levels of the fecal coliform.

According to the Centers For Desease Control and Prevention, coliforms are a group of bacteria found in plant material, water, and soil. They are also present in the digestive tracts and feces of humans and animals.

Hajna said the cause is most likely rain and stormwater runoff that carry pollutants from roads, lawns and sidewalks that may include pet waste, wildlife waste, and agriculture waste.

The beds will remain closed indefinitely while the bureau said it will continue to monitor levels of fecal coliform.

The bureau will perform targeted sampling during storm events to identify potential sources of pollution, and work with the local municipalities to take actions or corrective measures to improve the bacterial water quality.

MORE: Shark River dredging saved from TTF shutdown

Dan Radel: 732-643-4072; dradel@gannettnj.com

 

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