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Eyes on the Bay: Invasive Plants and Animals » Are Green Mussels Safe To Eat?
While green mussels are harvested for food in their native waters, they are generally NOT safe to harvest and consume from Tampa Bay.
Despite dramatic improvements in water quality in Tampa Bay, most of the bay is closed to shellfish harvesting because of the risk of bacterial contamination from pollutants carried in runoff from the land. Consuming shellfish from such waters could result in a variety of illnesses, ranging from diarrhea to infectious hepatitis. To protect public health, it is actually against the law to possess shellfish such as oysters, clams or even Asian green mussels taken from waters that are closed to shellfish harvesting.
Two areas of Tampa Bay -- near Fort DeSoto in Pinellas County and in portions of Tampa Bay in Manatee County - are conditionally approved for shellfish harvesting, meaning that regular testing is conducted to determine bacterial levels there. However, even these areas are typically closed to harvesting following heavy rains, which wash bacteria-laden pollutants into the water. Information about the status of these two conditionally approved harvesting areas is available by calling the state's regional aquaculture office at (941) 255-7405 or logging on to http://www.floridaaquaculture.com.