Baton Rouge – The Department of Health – Office of Public Health (DHH/OPH) hasREOPENED some of the oyster harvest areas that were closed last Tuesday, August 30, 2005.  Oyster harvesting can resume in the areas outlined below beginning at official sunrise, Friday, September 16, 2005.  The beds were closed as a precautionary measure after Hurricane Katrina.

 Today’s action rescinds the closure order, allowing oystermen to resume operations in the Terrebonne Parish harvest areas (Harvest Areas 15-23). 

 All other areas that were closed on August 30, 2005 shall remain closed until further notice. These are areas 1-14. 

 The Louisiana water bodies currently closed to harvest of seafood are those molluscan shellfish growing areas located in Harvest Areas 1-14.   Those areas were closed to the harvest of shellfish (oysters) immediately after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina.

 DHH/OPH has determined that molluscan shellfish growing waters in Harvest Areas 15-23 of Terrebonne Parish are suitable for harvest of oysters.  The order to reopen these harvest areas was signed today by Dr. Jimmy Guidry, State Health Officer, and LDH Secretary, Dr. Fred Cerise.

 Seafood that was harvested and has entered the wholesale supply chain prior to Hurricane Katrina is safe to eat.

 Because of public health concerns about the impacts on the quality of seafood harvested from areas potentially affected by the dewatering of New Orleans, DHH/OPH is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Seafood to monitor any impacts to seafood resulting from the drainage taking place in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

 Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer said, “We will continue to monitor conditions in the shellfish growing areas to ensure that we protect our public’s health.” The Louisiana Oyster Task Force was also in support of this reopening.  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.