DEM: Shellfishing areas to close

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently announced the following closures of shellfishing areas. 

About 46 acres of Bluff Hill Cove on the eastern side of Point Judith Pond between Great Island and the Narragansett shoreline are closed to shellfishing based on recent water quality monitoring results. This area must be closed because of unacceptably high bacteria levels.

DEM is working with the town of Narragansett to identify and resolve the causes of this closure.

Due to potential water quality impacts associated with marinas and mooring fields, the following seasonal shellfishing closures will take effect Saturday, May 26, and remain in place until Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The areas are within:

  • 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

Also, DEM is announcing that smaller marina closures in the southern coastal ponds, Fort Wetherill, and the Kickemuit River in Warren will also go into effect.

A year ago, DEM announced that it was lifting rainfall related shellfishing restrictions for parts of Upper Narragansett Bay for the first time in 70 years.

Similarly, based on water quality evidence and shellfish tissue data it has collected, DEM is hopeful about being able to reopen the lower Providence River as a new conditional area within a year.

DEM continues to work alongside partners to finalize the details of a conditional area and shellfish management plan to make that hope a reality. Such an action – which would allow for the harvest of shellfish from the river for the first time in more than 70 years – shows water quality improvements resulting from decades of intense effort to clean up Providence River and Narragansett Bay, most notably improvements by the Narragansett Bay Commission to reduce the discharge of combined sewer overflows.

“The effort to clean up Narragansett Bay has been monumental,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “It’s taken longer than any of us would have liked, but it’s been undeniably steady. It’s required federal, state, and local government cooperation. And we should acknowledge and celebrate that the work we’re all doing is resulting in a cleaner Bay.”

Coit credited Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s “coherent and progressive food strategy” – part of which was the creation of the Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative – as “being instrumental toward creating, sustaining, and growing markets for Rhode Island shellfish; retaining and expanding shellfish-related businesses; and prioritizing sustainable practices.”

Launched in 2017, the Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative promotes the importance of shellfish to Rhode Island and as part of continuing state efforts to support a strong local food economy.

For more information on the shellfish harvesting reclassification, review the annual notice available at www.dem.ri.gov.

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