With parts of Rhode Island experiencing more than three inches of rainfall from yesterday’s storm, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced earlier today closures of approved shellfish areas for seven days and existing conditional shellfish areas for 10 days. This is standard procedure after rainfall of three inches in a 24-hour period. Thus far, no municipal wastewater treatment facility has reported any storm-related sanitary sewer overflows or permit violations to DEM.
According to the conditional and excessive rain closure policies, DEM announces the following closures:
- Effective noon today, Conditional Areas Upper Bay Area “A” and Upper Bay Area “D” will be closed to shellfishing and scheduled to reopen at noon, Dec. 11, 2020.
- Effective at noon today, Conditional Area Greenwich Bay and the Point Judith Pond Conditional Areas will be closed to shellfishing for seven days and scheduled to reopen noon, Dec. 8, 2020.
- The closures of Mount Hope Bay and Kickemuit River Conditional Areas will extend seven days and are scheduled to reopen at noon, Dec. 8, 2020.
- Effective noon today, GA 1 Upper Bay Area “B”, GA 3 East Middle Bay, and GA 9 West Middle Bay will be closed to shellfishing and are scheduled to reopen at noon, Dec. 8, 2020.
DEM works with the Rhode Island Department of Health to ensure that shellfish harvested in approved growing areas is safe for human consumption. Accordingly, DEM announces these additional storm-related procedures and requirements:
- Shellfish harvested after noon today from the parts of Shellfish Harvest Areas 3W and 4A that remain open will be assigned Harvest Areas 3W South and 4A South.
- Aquaculture farmers are reminded that:
- Access to leases in the affected areas is limited to necessary maintenance/retrieval of equipment, and for the purposes of preparing for and planting oyster seed. If the lessee intends to conduct maintenance and/or retrieve their equipment, or prepare for or plant seed, they are required to notify Ben Goetsch, Aquaculture Coordinator, RI Coastal Resources Management Council, by leaving a message at 783-3370.
- Where an extended closure period has been enacted (greater than seven days), access to the lease for non-harvest activities may be allowed. The lessee must seek and obtain authorization by contacting RIDEM’s Law Enforcement division at 222-3070 to conduct any non-harvest activities.
Sign up to receive email notifications of conditional area and emergency closures by sending an email to RishellfishOWRfirstname.lastname@example.org or visit dem.ri.gov/shellfish, go to the Stay Informed box on the right-hand side, and click on the Subscribe button. This voluntary email list is used to distribute information on water quality-related shellfish harvesting restrictions. As required by RI General Law § 20-8.1-3, DEM will continue to provide notice of harvesting restrictions on the 24-hour shellfish hotline recording at 222-2900.
For information on where you can harvest shellfish, please refer to the interactive shellfish map, which can be found by clicking on Shellfish Map on the Shellfish Links menu located on the right side of the home page (dem.ri.gov/shellfish).
Current status of CONDITIONALLY APPROVED areas of Upper Narragansett Bay, Greenwich Bay, Mount Hope Bay, the Kickemuit River, or other emergency closures may be obtained by calling the Shellfish Closure Hotline 222-2900 24 hours a day. If you have questions or concerns about shellfish closures, you may call 222-4700 or email them to email@example.com.