DEM Announces Annual Reclassification of Shellfish Waters and Seasonal Shellfish Closures

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Reclassification Opens 1,607 Acres in Mt. Hope Bay and Kickemuit River, and Closes 119 Acres in Upper Narragansett Bay and 33 Acres in Great Salt Pond on Block Island

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has announced that seasonal shellfish closures will take effect at sunrise Saturday, May 24. 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.

The areas seasonally closed to shellfishing include waters within the following areas: Block Island (Great Salt Pond), Bristol Harbor, Jamestown (Dutch Harbor area), Potter Cove (Prudence Island), Sakonnet Harbor, Wickford Harbor (Fishing Cove), and a portion of the Kickemuit River described in detail below.

In addition to the seasonal closures, DEM has reclassified several areas of the state’s shellfish harvesting waters based on results of the Department’s routine monitoring program, resulting in the reopening on a conditional and/or seasonal basis of 1,625 acres, and the closing of about 152 acres. Those changes will also take effect at sunrise Saturday, May 24.

The areas opening to the harvest of shellfish, due to water quality improvements, totaling 1,625 acres, are the following:

Mount Hope Bay and Bristol Narrows, totaling 1607.4 acres, which had been closed since 2006, has been reclassified as open on a conditional basis. Those waters include:

  • Growing Area 17-1, Mt. Hope Bay described as all waters of Mount Hope Bay north and west of a line from Bristol Point to the channel Buoy R4 located on the southerly side of the Mount Hope Bay channel, and west of an intersecting line from a range marker on Common Fence Point in Portsmouth to a range marker on the shoreline of Touisset Point in Warren, and south of a line from the DEM range markers located on the east shore and west shore at the entrance to the Kickemuit River, including the “Bristol Narrows” in its entirety.
  • Growing Area 5 – Kickemuit River growing area, at 43.9 acres, has been re-classified as seasonally/conditionally open, meaning it will not be open until October 14. The area is described as the Kickemuit River, south of a line from the eastern extension of Kickemuit Avenue in Bristol to the DEM range marker located on the western tip of Little Neck in Touisset, and north of a line from the DEM range markers located on the east shore and west shore at the entrance to the Kickemuit River, including the “Bristol Narrows” in its entirety.
  • Growing Area 1 – Upper Bay Conditional Area A, at 17.9 acres, which had been closed since 2007, has been reclassified as conditionally open. The area is described as all waters east of a line from the DEM Range marker located approximately 1000 feet north of the end of Beach Road in Bristol to Nun Buoy #2, and east of a line from Nun Buoy #2 to the northern landward end of the dock located approximately 1000 feet south of Beach Road, just north of the extension of Gibson Road in Bristol.

The areas closed to the harvest of shellfish totaling 152 acres, are the following:

  • Growing Area 1, Conditional Area A in vicinity of Conimicut Point, at 119 acres, has been reclassified from conditional status to prohibited status, and the closure line has been moved south to a closure line last used in 1983, which is the Providence River and Upper Bay, north of a line from Conimicut Point to Conimicut Light then to Old Tower at Nayatt Point including the tributaries of these waters north of this line.
  • Growing Area 13-2, Cormorant Cove in Great Salt Pond, at 33 acres, has been re-classified from approved to prohibited status. The area is described as all waters of Cormorant Cove in Great Salt Pond south and west of a line from the northern most extremity of Cormorant Point to the landward end of the pier located at the former Coast Guard Station located at the entrance to the Great Salt Pond.

Additional information on shellfish areas are available on DEM’s website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on “Maps” and selecting the appropriate link under “Paper Maps”, or by calling DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222-3961. Updated information on the reclassification is expected to be available online by Wednesday, May 21st. Updated information on conditional closures is available by calling DEM’s shellfishing hotline at 222-2900.