Baton Rouge –The Department of Health has announced the reopening of additional oyster harvest areas that were closed Sept. 23 as a precautionary measure because of Hurricane Rita. Oyster harvesting can resume in Harvest Areas 24-28, which are located from the Atchafalaya River west to Fresh Water Bayou, Vermilion Parish, half an hour before sunrise on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

 Louisiana water bodies currently closed to the harvest of (oysters) shellfish that will remain “CLOSED” until further notice are Harvest Areas 2 through 4, and Harvest Areas 8 through 13. LDH will continue to conduct chemical and microbiological testing of the water and oysters in these areas, and they will remain closed until it is determined that these areas meet the necessary reopening criteria.

 In addition, LDH signed an order with the concurrence of  the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries today to OPEN the West Cove and Lower Calcasieu Conditional Management Areas located in Cameron Parish at sunrise on Wednesday, Oct. 26. 

 The opening of these conditional management areas was delayed from their traditional opening earlier this month because of the effects of Hurricane Rita.   These two conditionally managed areas are opened and closed on the river stage of the Calcasieu River and the season extends until April 30, 2006.  Oyster fishermen must use the LDHH Information Hotline at 1-800-256-2775 to find out the official harvest status (open or closed) of the West Cove and Lower Calcasieu Conditional Management Areas.

 “We will continue to monitor conditions in the shellfish growing areas to ensure that we protect our public’s health,” Dr. Guidry said.

 Water standards for oyster harvesting areas are set by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and can be found at  LDH has the authority to open and close these waters under LSA-R.S. 40:5,3.