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Are blue crabs from the Cape Fear River safe to eat?

Ken Little
Blue crabs

Blue crabs at a fish market in Wilmington. (StarNews file photo)

Belly up to the table and dig in, said Rich Carpenter, district manager with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

“Yes. The meats of shellfish and crabs have been monitored in the Cape Fear for contaminants,” Carpenter said. “There are some fish advisories for fin fish, but not blue crabs, and the advisories for fin fish are upstream of Wilmington.”

Concerns about high mercury levels in some species of fin fish don’t correspond to crabs because fish species included in the advisory live longer than crabs, and have more time to accumulate metals, Carpenter said.

“Shellfish and blue crabs have a shorter life span,” he said.

Shellfish are subject to a separate monitoring program that focuses on bacteria levels in the water. To locate closed areas, go to http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/shellfish/maps.htm

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