Oyster harvesting on Georgia's coast is off limits for three months to protect people eating the shellfish from bacteria sometimes found in warm summer waters.
The state Department of Natural Resources said the ban on commercial and recreational harvesting started Friday and continues until October.
Dominic Guadagnoli, the DNR's shellfish program manager, said Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) bacteria is found in filter-feeding shellfish when estuarine water temperatures exceed 81 degrees.
Summer also is spawning season, and the combination of reproduction and warm water makes oyster flesh less desirable.
May through September accounts for less than 2 percent of Georgia's annual harvest. Guadagnoli said commercial oystermen have long been aware of the Vp threat and fully support the closure.