DEM Announces Seasonal Shellfish Area Closures Effective May 25

The Rhode Island DEM has announced that seasonal shellfish area closures will begin at sunrise on Saturday, May 25, and remain in effect until Tuesday, October 15. These closures are implemented annually to comply with federal requirements and address potential water quality impacts associated with marinas and mooring fields. The affected areas include:

  • Bristol Harbor
  • Dutch Harbor Area, Jamestown
  • Fishing Cove, Wickford Harbor
  • Great Salt Pond and Trims Pond, Block Island
  • Potter Cove, Prudence Island
  • Sakonnet Harbor, Little Compton

Additionally, small seasonal marina closures in the southern coastal ponds, Fort Wetherill, and the Kickemuit River in Warren will also take effect on May 25.

No Changes in Shellfish Classification

Shellfish harvest area water quality is evaluated every May. Despite 2023 being a particularly wet year, with 57.7 inches of rain compared to the long-term average of 49 inches, all approved and conditionally approved Rhode Island shellfish areas met national FDA standards for safe shellfish harvest. Therefore, there are no downgrades in Rhode Island shellfish growing areas for 2024.

“From the opening of the Providence River to quahogging for the first time in 75 years in 2021, to the opening of new shellfishing grounds in Greenwich Bay in 2022, to the Mount Hope Bay reopening in 2023, the trend toward better water quality in Narragansett Bay is clear,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “The improvements propelling this progress — replacing and phasing out outmoded cesspools that pollute groundwater, upgrading wastewater treatment facilities, and improving collection and treatment of stormwater — have not come cheaply, but they’ve been worth every penny because the bay is cleaner and healthier than it’s been in generations.”

Commitment to Quality and Safety

Rhode Island shellfish are renowned for their quality, achieved through rigorous monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters. DEM, in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the RI Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), and industry partners, ensures that shellfish grown and harvested in Rhode Island waters remain a safe and high-quality seafood product. This diligent oversight allows for a swift response to changes in water quality due to natural events such as algae blooms or unusual weather conditions.

For more information on the seasonal shellfish area closures and the ongoing efforts to maintain water quality, visit DEM’s website.




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