florida-agriculture.com

Agriculture Press Release

November 5, 1999

Hotline Established for Shellfish Information

TALLAHASSEE -- Floridas Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services is making it easier for the states fishermen to get important information about the status of shellfish harvesting areas. Commissioner Bob Crawford has established a hotline to provide information about whether the states 36 harvesting areas are open or closed. That statewide toll-free number is 1-877-304-4024. Previously, shellfish harvesters had to call one or more of the five field offices of the Departments Division of Aquaculture to find out the status of shellfish areas.

"With one toll-free call, harvesters can determine the status of any shellfish area 24 hours a day," Crawford said. "This should make it a great deal more efficient for our commercial and recreational shellfish harvesters."

Management plans based on rainfall and river levels enable officials to predict when areas should be closed to the harvest of oysters, clams and mussels, because elevated levels of bacteria make the shellfish unsafe for human consumption. Areas also may be closed under emergency conditions, such as a hurricane or red tide outbreak. Shellfish areas are reopened for harvest when sampling demonstrates that stringent water quality criteria are met to ensure that shellfish are wholesome.

Those who prefer to obtain the status of shellfish areas by talking with personnel in the divisions Shellfish Section can continue to call the Division of Aquaculture field offices, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone numbers of field offices are:

Panama City (850) 747-5252
Apalachicola (850) 653-8317
Cedar Key (352) 543-5181
Murdock (941) 255-7405
Palm Bay (407) 984-4890.

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For more information:

Robert L. Thompson
(850) 488-5471

Liz Compton
(850) 410-6748


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