PROVIDENCE – As part of continued efforts to support a strong shellfish industry in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and partners will hold an informational meeting in September to review Rhode Island's new monitoring and contingency response plan for harmful algae blooms (HAB). Last year, Rhode Island experienced its first HAB caused by the presence of toxic phytoplankton in local waters; the event triggered an emergency closure of the state's shellfishing areas. A subsequent bloom earlier this year resulted in a second emergency closure of some waters.
When: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | 5:00 p.m.
Where: Hazard Room, University of Rhode Island, Coastal Institute Building 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett RI 02882
As part of the workshop, officials will review routine monitoring efforts for phytoplankton in the state's waters as well as new emergency protocols in the case a HAB is detected. A significant contributor to Rhode Island's commercial fishing industry, shellfish support the livelihoods of hundreds of fishers year-round and provide nourishment and enjoyment to Rhode Islanders and tourists. Rhode Island's shellfish industry contributes more than $12 million to the economy each year. In recognition of the economic and cultural value of shellfish, Governor Raimondo, along with many partners, launched the Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative earlier this year. Through it, state agencies, industry, academia, and community partners will further efforts to sustainably manage local shellfish stock, promote economic growth and jobs, and celebrate Rhode Island's unique food cultures.
Along with its partners, DEM successfully managed the earlier HAB events, ensuring all local shellfish products on the market remained safe. During the emergency closures, partners worked swiftly to collect and test over 190 water and shellfish samples for harmful algae and domoic acid, a toxin responsible for amnesic shellfish poisoning in humans. Waters were reopened when all samples tested below levels of concern. In the wake of these events, DEM worked with its partners to update the state's Harmful Algae Bloom and Shellfish Biotoxin Monitoring and Contingency Plan, which will be reviewed during next month's workshop. To review the Plan, visit www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.