Delaware's Shellfish Program
ADVISORY: A temporary closure through Jan. 22, 2020 of shellfish harvesting in the State waters
of Delaware Bay from the Mispillion River Inlet south to The Point of Cape Henlopen State Park due
to public health risk has been lifted in adherence to DNREC emergency shellfish closure policy.
DNREC's Delaware Shellfish Program is responsible for protecting public health by minimizing the risk of food borne illness due to the consumption of shellfish. For the purposes of this program "shellfish" are defined as any species of molluscan bivalve, which would include clams, mussels and oysters. Although crabs, scallops, conchs and other common seafood species are often referred to as shellfish, they do not require the same regulations because they are not intended to be eaten raw.
Delaware is a member of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) and therefore is required to follow all guidelines set forth by the organization. The ISSC is made up of state, federal and industry representatives, which work in cooperation with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure compliance of state programs with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program's (NSSP) Model Ordinance.
Shellfish operations are categorized into three separate elements: Growing Waters, Plant Inspections and Enforcement. In the state of Delaware these duties are divided between two of DNREC's divisions: The Division of Watershed Stewardship and the Division of Fish & Wildlife. The Division of Watershed Stewardship's Shellfish Program is responsible for the growing water and plant inspection elements, while the Division of Fish & Wildlife has responsibility for enforcing the patrol portion of the program.