The Department of Health has closed all oyster harvest areas located from the Louisiana -Mississippi State Line to the Atchafalya River effective at official sunset today, October 10, 2004.  This closure affects those harvest areas located in Areas 1-24.

These shellfish growing areas shall remain closed until such time as the growing waters are determined to be within approved criteria established by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

The order to close these oyster-growing waters was signed today by Dr. Frederick P. Cerise, LDH Secretary, and Dr. Jimmy Guidry, State Health Officer.

According to Dr. Guidry, flooding conditions that were created by Tropical Storm Matthew cause natural contaminates to be washed into rivers, bayous and streams where they then flow into the oyster growing areas.

“This is a precautionary closure,” Cerise explained.  “We will continue this closure order until we are confident that the waters are clear.”

The Louisiana Oyster Task Force is also in support of this closure.

“Based on the challenges presented by Tropical Storm Matthew, we feel that closures need to occur.  We support DHH’s decision and are confident they will reopen the waters as soon as possible,” said Mike Voisin, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.

Water standards for oyster harvesting are set by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and can be found at  LDH has the authority to close these waters under LSA-R.S. 40:5,