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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

December 8, 2000

Contact:

Sally Spadaro 222-4700 ext. 2426
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM ANNOUNCES DECEMBER 13 OPENING OF WINTER SHELLFISHING GROUNDS

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management will re-open several restocked shellfishing grounds at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, December 13. The holiday season is economically important to commercial shellfishermen because of high consumer demand for traditional holiday shellfish meals.

Areas to open are: the Bristol transplant bed, High Banks and Bissel Cove/Fox Island in North Kingstown, the Upper Sakonnet River between Tiverton and Portsmouth, and Greenwich Bay in Warwick and East Greenwich (depending on rainfall). These areas will be open to shellfishing from a boat from 8 a.m. until noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through April 30. The areas will also be open on Tuesday, December 19 and Tuesday, December 26 from 8 a.m. to noon but will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day, which both fall on a Monday. The substitution of the two Tuesdays for the Monday holidays will ensure a flow of product to local markets. The Potowomut Shellfish Management Area remains closed to shellfishing until December 2001 to allow continued shellfish reproduction in that area.

This season's openings are the culmination of several shellfish restoration programs that have taken place over the past four years through the combined efforts of the shellfish industry, the Narragansett Bay Commission, Governor Lincoln Almond, Senator Jack Reed and DEM. Senator Reed provided funds through a grant from the Economic Development Administration for shellfishing transplants from the Providence River. Governor Almond and the Narragansett Bay Commission provided funds for annual bay transplants, which are carried out by the state's shellfishermen under the supervision of DEM.

Creation of spawner sanctuaries in the upper west passage areas of Potowomut and the High Banks, where shellfish are transplanted and left alone for at least two years to reproduce, has resulted in a direct harvest of the transplanted stock. More importantly, the larvae from the transplanted shellfish have colonized adjacent waters. A major shellfish set has occurred immediately south of the High Banks.

Shoredigging Areas to Re-open

Two popular shoredigging areas will also re-open on December 13. Mill Gut at Colt State Park in Bristol will open at sunrise on that date and remain open daily from sunrise to sunset until April 30, 2001; it will be closed, however, whenever the Area A pollution closure is in effect. The shoreline of Bissel Cove will re-open after a four-year closure. (The Cove had been closed due to the lack of larger sized shellfish.) It will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 8 a.m. until noon. On May 1, 2001 that area will be opened to shoredigging daily from sunrise until sunset.

Daily catch limits for both shoredigging and harvesting from boats are three bushels each for clams, quahogs and oysters taken by licensed commercial shellfishermen; and, for recreational shellfishermen, who may not sell their product, one peck each for Rhode Island residents and peck each for licensed non-residents. Rhode Islanders do not need licenses for recreational shellfishing.

Shellfish area maps, indicating conditional closures due to rainfall, can be found on DEM's website at www.dem.state.ri.us/shellchz.htm. Bay closure information can also be obtained by calling DEM's bay closure information line at 222-2900.

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