Shellfish Sanitation Program Overview
The Shellfish Sanitation Program is funded by an appropriation by the Georgia General Assembly and consists of water quality monitoring, permitting shellfish harvesters, sanitary surveys, and report writing. The National Shellfish Sanitation Program's (NSSP) Manual of Operations (Part 1, Section C-3,a) requires that states show that shellfish harvest areas are " not subject to contamination from human and/or animal fecal matter in amounts that in the judgment of the SSCA [State Shellfish Control Authority] may present an actual or potential hazard to public health." Standards of the NSSP further require the state to regularly collect water samples from each approved harvest area and to perform certain analytical procedures to ensure that the area is below the established fecal coliform threshold.
Classification of Georgia shellfish waters is based upon a 5-tube decimal dilution analysis as prescribed by the NSSP. Sampling by the Georgia Shellfish Program follows the procedure described by the NSSP Manual of Operations Systematic Random Sampling (p. 26). Water Quality sampling occurs monthly at sixty-eight (68) stations in five (5) counties on the coast including Chatham, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties.
Sanitary Surveys are done every twelve (12) years and provide the written evaluation report of all environmental factors, including actual and potential pollution sources, which have a bearing on water quality in a shellfish growing area. Annual and Triennial reports are reports are written to document the effective administration of a statewide shellfish safety and sanitation program.
The program maintains recreational harvest of clams and oysters only from classified areas, specially designated in Chatham, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden counties. Recreational harvest for personal use does not require a permit. Daily harvest limits are 2 bushels of oysters and 1 bushel of clams per person per day not to exceed 6 bushels of oysters and 1 bushel of clams per boat per day. For more information about oyster and clam collecting, call the Coastal Resources Division Shellfish Program in Brunswick, Georgia at 912-264-7218.