Expanded shellfishing opportunities announced for RI waters

NARRAGANSETT BAY, R.I. (WPRI)- DEM officials say prime shellfishing areas have been expanded.

Beginning at sunrise Saturday morning, restrictions on parts of upper Narragansett Bay are now lifted.

Also affected Saturday, the new Conditional Area A will close after 1.2 inches of rain.

Previously, Conimicut Triangle waters closed at 0.5 inches, and Conditional Area A waters closed at 0.8 inches.

A review of historic rainfall data indicates this change will likely increase shellfishing opportunities in the former Triangle area by 85 days annually, and the remaining waters by 35 days.

“Through the efforts of DEM, the Narragansett Bay Commission and many partners, we have made incredible progress in cleaning up Rhode Island’s waters,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Once overwhelmed by raw sewage and other pollution, today our bays, rivers, and coastal waters are cleaner and healthier. The benefits of this to our environment, economy, and families are immeasurable. As a result of strong laws and investments such as the combined sewer overflow project, fishers and families have expanded opportunities to harvest and enjoy delicious, wild shellfish. This is a momentous day for Rhode Island, a day we celebrate progress in restoring water quality, and welcome shellfishermen back to historic waters. I look forward to our continued work together to reduce pollution and address other threats to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to a healthy and productive Narragansett Bay.”

In addition, Cormorant Cove on Block Island is open to shellfishers for the first time in 10 years.

Restrictions had been in place in upper Narragansett Bay for the last 70 years.

DEM, along with its partners, will develop a management plan for the area before it is opened to shellfishing; this is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the shellfish stock. This work is expected to continue into 2018.

For more information on the shellfish harvesting reclassification, review the annual notice available at A new, interactive shellfishing map is also available.