Oyster farming halted on part of Eastern Shore after 3 people get sick

Posted at 12:45 AM, Jul 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-17 00:59:53-04

Eastern Shore - Oysters from the Eastern Shore have gotten three people sick. Now harvesting the shellfish on one part of the Eastern Shore is shut down for a year.

That's bad news for fisherman who fear a stigma will create rocky seas for their businesses.

"This is gonna be a setback with some people," said Christopher Buck, who has been oyster farming for a few years."On the whole, it's going to continue to grow."

The tainted oysters came from Fisherman Island right near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Three people became ill after eating the oysters, in Massachusetts and Maryland.
What caused it is the naturally occurring vibrio that lurks in warmer waters.

The bad oysters were harvested in mid-May.

"I was afraid it was gonna put more, more constraints on us in an already highly regulated industry," Buck said.

Virginia's Health Department says the bacteria is becoming more prevalent in the bay, and it's not sure why. Christopher Buck is busiest during the summer, just when the heat makes his job toughest.

"The sooner you can get it on ice or refrigeration the better," Buck said.

In the morning, he's grabbing oysters from the bay and spends his evenings spraying down and scrubbing his boat. He hopes any further problems with oysters wash away, too.
The bad oysters only came from one area, the rest of the bay is fine.

"It's been growing the demand for oysters. It's a renaissance, an oyster renaissance," Buck said.

The oyster revival, though, has halted around the southern tip of the Eastern Shore.
The state health department is advising against eating raw oysters until the bay waters cool down, which could be mid to late fall.