TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey faces a potential shutdown of its $790 million oyster, clam and mussel harvest if federally-mandated health inspections and coastal patrols are not improved this summer, according to state and federal authorities.
How the state responds over the next few months to federal requirements geared toward preventing outbreaks of illness from contaminated shellfish is crucial to the mollusk industry, said officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA contends the state Department of Health and Senior Services failed to conduct adequate inspections in 2008 and 2009 at plants that process the mollusks hauled in by small, commercial fishing operations.
The financially strapped state Department of Environmental Protection also failed, the FDA said, to conduct mandated patrols of polluted coastal waters to guard against the poaching and illegal sale of contaminated mollusks.
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