In an update to the precautionary shellfish harvesting closure announced on Saturday, October 8th for Narragansett Bay, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced on Sunday, October 9th that shellfishing is also prohibited in all waters of Mt. Hope Bay, Kickemuit River and the Sakonnet River north of a line from Sachuest Point in Newport to Sakonnet Point in Little Compton, effective sunrise on Saturday, October 8. All tributaries to those waters are restricted as well.

The closures are due to a confirmed harmful algae bloom (HAB) caused by the presence of toxic phytoplankton, Pseudo-nitzschia spp. The harvest restriction does not apply to carnivorous snails such as whelk and moon snails.

Given the high concentrations of phytoplankton in several areas of Narragansett Bay and the confirmed presence of toxins in the phytoplankton, and out of an abundance of caution, all portions of the Bay where these elevated levels were found are being closed to shellfish harvesting.

DEM, in partnership with RIDOH, has and will continue to collect local shellfish for analysis to determine if the toxins are present in shellfish meats at levels of concern. The toxin, known as domoic acid, produced by these phytoplankton is responsible for causing amnesiac shellfish poisoning (ASP) in humans. Symptoms of ASP include short- and long-term memory loss along with other serious health effects.

For updates on shellfish closure areas, contact the DEM 24-hour shellfishing hotline at 401-222-2900.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).