by Jerry Vovcsko
Anyone that's ever eaten a bad oyster doesn't need to be told how sick these shellfish can make you. And now the Department of Marine Fisheries has announced public hearings on oyster safety plans. The new control plan will address Vibrio parahaemolyticus concerns. A new plan to help curb Vp related illnesses will be unveiled at public meetings in Eastham, Duxbury and Vineyard Haven in early April. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) Thursday announced three public meetings to unveil the 2014 Massachusetts Vibro parahaemolyticus (Vp) Control Plan for Oysters.
During the three meetings, to be held in early April in Duxbury, Eastham and Vineyard Haven, DMF will review a plan that was created with recommendations from the US Food and Drug Administration to control post-harvest growth of Vp bacteria in oysters during warm weather to prevent Vp related illnesses, according to a DMF release.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Vp is a bacterium that "naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States". In the same family that causes cholera, it causes gastrointestinal sickness including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting. There is a higher concentration of Vp in the summer months, according to the CDC.
Summer 2013 was the first year a Vp outbreak closed harvest areas in Massachusetts. In February, public meetings were held to seek feedback and input from oyster harvesters. That input was used to create the control plan, according to DMF.
The plan includes:
• Faster cooling and delivery of oysters
• Changes in oyster handling for harvesters
• Harvester icing within two hours of exposure/harvest and before leaving landing site
The plan also features additional Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) record keeping requirements for "primary buyers of oysters harvested within the Commonwealth for commercial purposes". According to the US FDA, HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed and analyzed from beginning through handling, distribution and consumption.
All commercial harvesting of oysters in Massachusetts will fall under the new plan between May 19 and October 19, 2014, according to DMF, which will be developing new regulations to mandate the plan.
The three public meetings are as follows:
• Friday, April 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Duxbury Maritime School, 457 Washington Street, Duxbury
• Friday, April 4 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Nauset Regional High School, 100 Cable Road, North Eastham
• Monday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Katharine Cornell Theatre, 54 Spring Street, Vineyard Haven
DMF regulates aquaculture for the state by overseeing the licensing of sites by towns and cities and permitting growers to "obtain and possess" sub-legal shellfish (seed) for transplant and grow-out to legal size." For more information about harvesting sites and licensing, visit your town's shellfish or natural resources office.
On another subject, and as a Public Service Reminder, all computer users should be aware that the annual Internet cleaning is scheduled for this coming Tuesday. Mark it on your calendar. During the day, you should place duct tape over any open network outlets to eliminate recycled electron spills. If you forget to do this and later find piles of electrons on your desk, take appropriate precautions in cleaning them up.
Although the recycled electrons may be safely discarded with your regular trash, they should be collected using an extra-strength paper towel that has been only slightly dampened. Using too much water can lead to a nasty shock if you wipe up more than a Coulomb. In some cases, you may find it easier to push these electrons back through the router and onto the Internet.
To accomplish this, obtain a can of compressed air (or use a reversible vacuum cleaner).
Create a funnel using a piece of standard paper that has been folded in half by rolling the paper and then spreading one end. Place the small end of the funnel in the router outlet and use the compressed air or vacuum cleaner output to blow the electrons back into the outlet.*
*Thanks to Mr. Bill Blinn of Columbus, Ohio, for this timely reminder. Be sure to mark it on your calendar.