red tide algae bloom

Shell of a problem as feds extend red tide fishing ban The red tide algae bloom that has shut down most shellfishing from Maine to Massachusetts has forced the closure of federal waters to shellfishermen, extending the affected area by thousands of square miles.

On Friday, the state Division of Marine Fisheries ordered a section of federal waters closed and asked federal officials to extend the ban to out-of-state shellfishermen. That extends the ban from three miles from shore to 100 miles from shore, as the industry deals with the worst red tide outbreak since 1972.

Maine and Massachusetts have declared states of emergency, seeking federal disaster relief for the shellfishing industry. According to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the red tide is costing the shellfish industry about $3 million per week.

The toxic algae bloom contaminates shellfish such as clams and mussels, making them unsafe for people and animals to eat. But it does not pose a risk to people who eat lobsters, scallops and finned fish.

The red tide extends from the Schoodic Peninsula in Maine to Massachusetts’ Buzzards Bay, but it has not extended into Rhode Island waters.

The algae that causes red tide blooms yearly. But this year, strong east and northeast winds, including two May nor’easters, blew in a particularly heavy algae bloom that flourished in warmer coastal waters.
By Associated Press

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