Baton Rouge - The Department of Health has CLOSED all oyster harvest areas located from the Louisiana-Mississippi State Line to the Atchafalaya River effective IMMEDIATELY, today, Tuesday, August 30, 2005. This closure affects those harvest grounds located in Areas 1- 23.

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

 Dr. Fred Cerise, LDH secretary, and Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer today signed the order to close these oyster-growing waters.

 “This is a precautionary closure," Cerise explained. "These harvest areas will remain closed until we are confident that the waters are clear."

 According to Dr. Guidry, flooding conditions that were created by Hurricane Katrina in coastal parishes cause natural contaminates to be washed into rivers, bayous and streams, where they can then flow into the oyster-growing areas.

 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. 40:5,3.