Baton Rouge –The Department of Health has REOPENED some of the oyster harvest areas that were closed September 23, 2005 as a precautionary measure because of Hurricane Rita. Oyster harvesting can resume in the areas outlined below beginning at official sunrise on Saturday, October 22. 

 Today’s action rescinds the closure order, allowing oystermen to resume operations in LDH Harvest Areas 14-23 on Saturday, October 22, and  in Harvest Areas 1 and 5 through 7 on Monday, October 24.  These harvest areas are located in St. Bernard, Plaquemines, West Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes.

 The order to reopen these harvest areas was signed today by State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry and LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise.

 "The Louisiana Department of Health has conducted extensive chemical and microbiological testing of shell stock, and we are confident the oysters in these areas are ready for harvest,” said Dr. Jimmy Guidry. “We will continue to monitor conditions in the shellfish growing areas to ensure that we protect our public’s health.”

 Louisiana water bodies currently closed to the harvest of (oysters) shellfish that will remain closed until further notice are Harvest Areas 2 through 4, 8 through 13 and 24 through 28, and the West Cove Conditional Management Areas and Lower Calcasieu Conditional Management Area.  

 The Louisiana Oyster Task Force also was in support of this reopening.  “We can now assure the oyster-eating public that only fresh, clean oysters are harvested," said Mike Voisin, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. "While there may be some spot shortages, we are confident that as more harvest areas are re-opened there will be an ample supply of fresh oysters."

 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.