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Shellfishing ban threatens holiday oysters

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When it comes to the holidays, there are some things you just can’t do without. “Oysters are top of the list. We have to have oysters for Thanksgiving, it's a must,” said Jon Haag of Haag & Sons Seafood in Oak Island. But that holiday necessity could be in danger. A ban on harvesting shellfish from the Division of Marine Fisheries due to poor water quality is threatening the holiday supply. “It could definitely be a problem, especially if the waters remained closed through the rest of this week. With no supply and all the big orders that everyone expects for Thanksgiving, people are going to try to stockpile going into this week and hopefully there'll be enough product so that everybody can be happy for Thanksgiving,” Haag said. After a heavy rainfall like this past week, increased runoff can create higher level of bacteria in our waters - making oysters, clams, and mussels unsafe to eat. “If people get sick off of shellfish, nobody's going to want to buy any. It can be pretty detrimental too - I mean some of this stuff can kill you,” said Dave Beresoff of Sunset Harbor Seafood. The ban is coming at a bad time for commercial fisherman and retailers - Dave Beresoff is both. He harvests and sells oysters at his store in Sunset Harbor. Once there's a halt on fishing, all he can do is wait. “There's nothing else we can do. We'll have product available up until its sold out. And it's just, like you say, wait and see,” said Beresoff. But time is running short before next week's seafood rush - and seafood sellers are hopeful mother nature will cooperate. “I just hope the weather stays just like this, and no more rain. That would be beneficial to all,” said Haag. Any shellfish you find at your local seafood provider right now are safe to eat. The ban is in place to make sure the supply remains that way. The Department of Marine Fisheries is waiting water quality test results and will reopen waters once they're sure the water is clean.

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