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Environment and Outdoors

Shellfish Harvest Sites Reopened After Unusually Long 'Red Tide' Closure

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press/file
Clams are for sale at Free Range Fish and Lobster, Friday, July 10, 2009, in Portland, Maine.

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Maine has recently lifted long closures of several shellfish harvest sites due to the potentially fatal biological toxin known as red tide. The Portland Press Herald reports this year's closure remained in place for three months in parts of southern Maine, nearly three times as long as the typical four to five weeks.
Jeff Nichols, Maine's Department of Marine Resources spokesman, says the department hasn't determined the cause of the longer red tide season.
Nichols says in the last seven years the state has relied upon precautionary closures which means harvest areas are closed at the first sign of toxins instead of when toxins reach a certain level.
Darcie Couture, a marine scientist who once worked for the state, criticized this approach for not balancing public health with industry needs.