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RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
DEM ANNOUNCES ANNUAL RECLASSIFICATION OF SHELLFISH WATERS AND SEASONAL SHELLFISH CLOSURES THAT TAKE EFFECT ON MAY 24PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces just one change in classification of the state's shellfish waters. Effective at sunset on Friday, May 23, Nag's Pond located on the east side of Prudence Island will change from approved to prohibited status as a result of elevated bacteria levels in the pond.
Seasonal Closures Become Effective at Sunrise on Saturday, May 24
DEM also announces that seasonal shellfish closures take effect at sunrise on Saturday, May 24. The areas seasonally-closed to shellfish harvesting include waters within the following areas: Block Island (Great Salt Pond and Trims Pond), Bristol Harbor, Jamestown (Dutch Harbor area), Potter Cove (Prudence Island), and Wickford Harbor (Fishing Cove). In addition, the smaller marina closures in the south coastal ponds and the Kickemuit River also go into effect. Consistent with US Food and Drug Agency requirements, DEM closes these areas to the harvesting of shellfish every year at this time due to potential water quality impacts associated with marinas and mooring fields. The seasonal closures will end at sunrise on Tuesday, October 14.
Targeted Monitoring to Evaluate Water Quality Improvements
DEM continues its targeted monitoring to evaluate improvements in Upper Narragansett Bay resulting from the ongoing construction of the Narragansett Bay Commission's CSO long-term control facilities. More specifically, DEM continues to supplement its routine compliance monitoring with wet-weather monitoring to evaluate the impact of large rain events to the Upper Bay. The purpose of the monitoring is to determine if water quality conditions in Conditional Area B support increasing the rainfall amount that triggers a closure and/or moving the southern boundary of Area B northward, thus shrinking the area classified as conditionally-approved. To date, conditions have not allowed DEM to capture the desired wet weather events though it remains a goal.
DEM's Office of Water Resources is also continuing a multi-year effort with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and US Environmental Protection Agency to identify and resolve bacteria sources in Massachusetts contributing to shellfish closures in Rhode Island's section of the Palmer River.
Ongoing Shellfish Management Plan Initiative
DEM, RI Coastal Resources Management Council and RI Sea Grant/Coastal Resources Center continue work with stakeholders to develop Rhode Island's first Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) to provide comprehensive policy guidance regarding the management and protection of the state's shellfish resources. Begun in January 2013, project leaders are working with the wild harvest, aquaculture, and restoration communities to define priority areas and begin tackling issues that are identified. Towards that end, DEM's Office of Water Resources is working to re-design its webpage in order to make information regarding water quality based shellfish harvesting restrictions more readily available. The Office of Water Resources is also working to ensure that signs demarcating closure lines are clearly visible and maintained, and as resources allow, latitude/longitude positions for range markers will be added to provide an alternate means to determine closure lines on the water. Information about the SMP initiative can be found at http://www.rismp.org/.
Additional information on shellfish areas is available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Shellfish Closure Maps and Info" under Timely Topics on the homepage and selecting the appropriate link under "Documents: Shellfish Grounds, Closures and Approved Areas", or by following this link: www.dem.ri.gov/maps/mapfile/shellfsh.pdf. The public may also call DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-3961. Updated recorded information on conditional closures is available by calling DEM's shellfishing hotline at 222-2900.