Home > Programs > Bureau of Environmental Protection > Office of Water Resources > Shellfishing
Safe Shellfish Consumption
Shellfish Harvesters' Tips for Safety and Quality
FDA NSSP Model Ordinance
Ten Things You Can Do to Improve Water Quality in RI
Five Reasons Why Feeding Waterfowl is Harmful
Harvesters' Education Program (Coming Soon)
Shellfish Area Descriptions
Marine Fisheries Topics
Office of Water Resources Shellfish Area Shoreline Surveys
The State of Rhode Island is a member of the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference. The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) was formed in 1982 to foster and promote shellfish sanitation through the cooperation of state and federal control agencies, the shellfish industry, and the academic community. Rhode Island must abide by rules and guidance set forth in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program's (NSSP) Model Ordinance in order to operate as an interstate shellfish state.
Where Can I Shellfish?
There are three classifications of shellfish harvest waters in the State of Rhode Island.
Shellfish Classification MapThe RI Department of Environmental Management Shellfish Program classifies all shellfish harvest waters within the limits of RI state waters for the enjoyment of recreational shellfish harvesters and for the commercial shellfish industry. Click over the image below to download maps showing the approximate boundaries and the current classification of these areas.
The boundaries shown on these maps are a general reference only. The written description of each classified area supersedes these map depictions and can be found by following the identified links within the map or in the document entitled Shellfish Grounds, Closures and Approved Areas
All waters of the state that are designated for shellfish harvesting have been identified and named as individual Growing Areas (GA1 – GA 17) with area specific classifications and boundaries.
Maps and descriptions of the individual shellfish growing areas and their current classifications can also be found by following these links:
Other Important Information
To learn more about other areas that relate to the shellfish program the following links will go into more detail on how different aspects of the program interact.
In addition to pollution closures shellfish harvesters, both recreational and commercial need to be aware of RIDEM's Marine Fisheries Section of Fish and Wildlife's management and catch regulations. The RIDEM's F&W Marine Fisheries section sets size, quantity and seasonal harvesting limits and has designated areas in approved shellfish harvesting waters that have additional management limitations. Refer to their recreational and commercial fishing laws for the complete text of these regulations.
Always remember shellfish harvesting will be allowed only when declared OPEN by the D.E.M. Office of Water Resources based upon water quality considerations.
Regulations and notices of Polluted Shellfish Grounds by the Office of Water Resources shall supersede the regulations cited above.
The Department's Division of Law Enforcement Marine Unit provides patrol and enforcement of the shellfish growing area classifications and boundaries and information on this element of the sanitary control of the shellfish industry along with other marine enforcement duties.
Shellfish Wholesalers and Dealers
The state annually issues numbered certificates to shellfish dealers who comply with the agreed-upon sanitary standards & forwards copies of the interstate certificates to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA makes an annual review of each state shellfish control program, including the inspection of a representative number of shellfish processing plants & publishes a list of valid interstate shellfish shipper certificates.
Rhode Island Department of Health's shellfish inspection program information can be found at this link.