Oyster harvesting in Georgia to close for the summer

In this Aug. 13, 2013, file photo, oysters are displayed in Apalachicola, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File)
In this Aug. 13, 2013, file photo, oysters are displayed in Apalachicola, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears, File) (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Recreational and commercial harvesting of oysters in Georgia is set to end Tuesday and remain closed until the fall.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources announced the closure, which it says is in line with its plan to control a naturally occurring bacteria found in filter-feeding shellfish. The bacteria Vibrio parahaemolyticus, known as Vp, occurs in greater concentrations when coastal waters are warm.

The bacteria can cause an illness that includes vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and chills, wildlife officials said.

“We expect this closure to have little adverse impact on recreational and commercial oyster harvesters, since most individuals refrain from eating freshly harvested wild oysters during the summer months when the combination of spawning and warm water makes oysters less desirable as seafood,” Dominic Guadagnoli, shellfish fish and water quality manager for the Coastal Resources Division of DNR, said in a news release.

People will still be allowed to harvest clams in approved shellfish harvesting areas. Clams are traditionally cooked at high heat that kills the bacteria, unlike oysters which are frequently eaten raw, Gaudagnoli said.

Oyster harvesting is set to reopen on Oct. 1.