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Rules and Regulations


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.

Information regarding CONDITIONALLY APPROVED areas of Upper Narragansett Bay, Greenwich Bay, Mount Hope Bay, or the Kickemuit River and emergency closures may be obtained by calling 401-222-2900 24 hours a day.


Where Can I Shellfish?

There are three classifications of shellfish harvest waters in the State of Rhode Island.

Classification Status Harvesting Activities
Approved Open Harvesting Allowed
Conditionally Approved Open Harvesting Allowed except under certain conditions caused by rainfall, wastewater treatment plant by-passes or on a seasonal schedule
Conditionally Approved Closed NO Shellfish Harvesting Allowed
Prohibited Closed NO Shellfish Harvesting Allowed

Shellfish Classification Map

The 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

  • Click on an area in the map to bring up information for that location
  • In the pop-up box, click "More Info" to link to more information regarding the classification description or the shoreline survey for that growing area
  • Use the +/- buttons to zoom in and out
  • Hold down your mouse key to drag the map around in the window
  • Click one of the task items in the Query form to fly to that location
  • Print a map of the area using the print function

image of typical interactive map screen, and link to same

View interactive map of shellfish harvest restriction 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:

Growing Area ID Growing Area Name General Description of Growing Area
GA-1 Upper Narragansett Bay Waters of Narragansett Bay south of the Providence River and north of Prudence Island
GA-2 Barrington, Palmer and Warren Rivers Waters south of the Massachusetts state line to the Upper Narragansett Bay
GA-3 East Middle Bay South of the Upper Narragansett Bay east of Prudence Island including Bristol Harbor
GA-4 Sakonnet River All waters of the Sakonnet River including the "Cove" and Nannaquaket Pond
GA-5 Kickemuit River Estuarine portion of the Kickemuit River
GA-6 East Passage Waters south of Prudence Island and between Jamestown and Newport
GA-7 West Passage Waters south and west of Jamestown
GA7-2 Narrow River Narrow or Pettaquamscutt River
GA-8 Greenwich Bay Waters of Greenwich Bay north west of Warwick Neck
GA-9 West Middle Bay Waters south of the Upper Narragansett Bay and west of Prudence Island
GA-10 Point Judith and Potters Ponds Southern coastal ponds Point Judith and Potters
GA-11NG Ninigret and Green Hill Ponds Southern coastal ponds Ninigret and Green Hill
GA-11QW Quonochontaug and Winnapaug Pond Southern coastal ponds Quonochontaug and Winnapaug
GA-12 Little Narragansett Bay Little Narragansett Bay
GA-13 Block Island Inland waters of the Great Salt Pond on Block Island
GA-14E Offshore East Offshore waters from Narragansett to Westport Massachusetts
GA-14W Offshore West including Offshore Block Island Offshore waters from Nappa Tree Point to Narragansett including the offshore waters of Block Island
GA-15 Seekonk River Seekonk River to the Providence River
GA-16 Providence River Providence River to the Upper Narragansett Bay
GA-17 Mount Hope Bay Waters of Mount Hope Bay south of the Massachusetts state line

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 DEM's Marine Fisheries Section of Fish and Wildlife's management and catch regulations. The DEM's Fish & Wildlife 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 DEM 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.

View information on Rhode Island Department of Health's shellfish inspection program.