FISHERMEN are still unable to gather shellfish in Poole Harbour due to Wessex Water’s storm overflows degrading the water quality with spilled sewage.

The water quality has been downgraded from category B to category C – meaning shellfish gathering has been temporarily suspended since July 20.

Initial resampling of shellfish from all shellfish sampling sites in Poole Harbour was carried out Wednesday, July 21 - the results received on Monday, July 26 were marked as satisfactory.

A further satisfactory sample must be obtained for each of the three areas which were closed by means of the Temporary Closure Notice - Wareham Channel, Rockley and Poole Harbour North (excluding oysters at West Brownsea) - before fishing of these three areas for bivalve shellfish can resume.

Further sampling took place on Wednesday, July 28, seven days after the previous samples were taken, in line with national policy and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s local shellfish action plan.

Sampling is arranged by BCP and analysis of the shellfish samples is undertaken by PHE.

The other areas of Poole Harbour which have been classified by the Food Standards Agency for the harvesting of bivalve shellfish are open for fishing.”

A spokesperson for the council said: “The three closed areas of the Harbour will be reopened on receipt of a second satisfactory result for each area, and will revert to B classification for harvesting of bivalve shellfish.

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“The results of sampling from Wednesday, July 28 are expected to be available next Monday, August 2. The Temporary Closure Notice will be lifted if the samples are confirmed as satisfactory.

“The Council is working with Wessex Water, who control the sewage infrastructure, and with the Environment Agency, who regulates Wessex Water in relation to sewage outfalls, to ensure future investment decisions include the necessary infrastructure upgrades to minimise further impacts on local shellfish businesses.

“We are also trying to influence the Government to make legislative changes aimed at reducing the frequency and quantity of sewage outflows.”