HABS Marine Biotoxin Monitoring
Rhode Island’s coastal waters are occasionally impacted by harmful algae blooms (HAB) that have the potential to produce biotoxins that can sicken humans if they consume fish or shellfish contaminated by HAB toxins.
Shellfish are filter feeders and can accumulate biotoxins produced by these microscopic harmful algae to levels that can be poisonous. Cooking does not eliminate these toxins and consumption of contaminated shellfish can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, and other serious health problems.
In August 2017, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and RI Department of Health (RIDOH) finalized revisions to the RI Harmful Algae Bloom and Shellfish Biotoxin Monitoring and Contingency Plan. The plan outlines the state’s routine HAB phytoplankton monitoring plan as well as more intensified monitoring of phytoplankton and shellfish should HAB abundance exceed action thresholds and/or evidence of toxin production is found. It also details contingency actions including emergency closures should conditions warrant.
Emergency closures are announced through local media outlets and on RIDEM’s 24- hour shellfish hotline at 401-222-2900.
All shellfish harvested from waters identified as closed due to harmful algae blooms must not be eaten regardless of being raw or cooked. Rhode Island has taken steps to ensure the safety and high quality of shellfish harvested from RI’s waters. RIDEM encourages all to be informed of the risks associated with marine biotoxins and simple steps to protect you and your family.
- RI Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) and Shellfish Biotoxin Monitoring and Contingency Plan
- HAB Fact Sheet
- HAB FAQs
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: PAST EVENTS
- Public Meeting Agenda
- HAB: 12/16/16 Public Meeting Agenda
- HAB: 12/16/16 Response Plan Revisions Draft
- HAB: 12/16/16 Presentation
- HAB: 12/16/16 Short Term Research Needs
- HAB Shellfish Harvesting Closure FAQ (10/21/16)
- Press Releases
- Public Workshop On Harmful Algae Bloom Monitoring Next Month (8/31/17)
- Emergency Shellfishing Closure Lifted For Rhode Island Waters (3/23/17)
- Portions Of RI Sound And Lower Narragansett Bay And Sakonnet River Closed To Shellfishing (3/1/17)
- Emergency Shellfishing closure lifted for Rhode Island waters (10/31/16)
- Ban Lifted On Whelk Harvesting In Lower Narragansett Bay, Nearby Waters (10/26/16)
- Lower Narragansett Bay, Nearby Waters Closed To Shellfishing (10/21/16)
- Lower Sakonnet River Closed To Shellfishing (10/20/16)
- Update On Emergency Shellfish Closure In RI Waters (10/11/17)
- Emergency Shellfish Harvesting Closure Due To Harmful Algae Bloom In Narragansett Bay (10/7/16)