Summer is the season that Mainers and visitors enjoy delicious, locally harvested shellfish such as clams, oysters and mussels.

Ensuring that everyone can enjoy these Maine delicacies in good health is the responsibility of the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ Public Health Bureau. Following is some important information for folks who buy or harvest Maine shellfish to enjoy at home.

To carefully manage Maine’s shellfish resources, DMR has a rigorous monitoring program that ensures public health and safety. Thousands of samples of shellfish are collected each year from the entire Maine coast and tested at Food and Drug Administration-approved labs.

Maine’s Department of Marine Resources conducts a dealer inspection program that ensures that all licensed wholesale shellfish dealers meet the thorough standards outlined by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

By making sure wholesale shellfish dealers meet these standards, the department ensures the safety and wholesomeness of Maine shellfish throughout the distribution chain.

Recreational harvesters of clams, oysters or mussels should always check the status of an area where they plan to take shellfish immediately before they harvest. The DMR website, local Marine Patrol officer or local municipal office will have the latest information on areas that are open for harvesting.

And if you decide to harvest your own clams or mussels, never soak or store them off your dock or boat. Keep shellfish refrigerated until you eat them. That way they will remain safe, fresh and delicious.

For more information on the Bureau of Public Health at the Maine Department of Marine Resources, visit healthsafety.htm.

Kohl Kanwit

director, Public Health Bureau, Maine Department of Marine Resources