BAR HARBOR — Due to public health concerns, the Clark Cove salt pond will be closed to oyster harvesting from May 15 to Oct. 15.
The Town Council, at the request of the Marine Resource Committee, voted to approve the seasonal closure during its meeting on Tuesday.
According to the Marine Resource Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the protection and optimum utilization of shellfish resources, the salt pond is high enough on the shore to not fully drain and refresh with each tide. When this occurs, warmer water covers the harvestable oysters, allowing for bacteria to grow and fester within the shells.
The committee has seen a net increase in the wild oyster population to the point where it is a sustainably harvestable amount, said Fiona de Koning, secretary of the Marine Resource Committee. The committee’s concern is that those oysters will be sold commercially and Bar Harbor could end up being associated with related food borne illnesses.
“Typically, because oysters are eaten raw, very often that’s the danger,” de Koning said during the Tuesday meeting. “There are naturally occurring bacteria and they do super well in that very warm water.”
During the closure, the Marine Resource Committee and marine biologists with the Department of Marine Resources will monitor the water with temperature trackers.
“You can pretty much be sure that if there’s going to be hot water on top of the tide and it doesn’t drain away very well, you’re going to have high counts of bacteria with the runoff,” said de Koning.
Signs notifying the closed area will be posted.