Support efforts to strengthen local shellfish stocks, promote growth of local food economy
PROVIDENCE – As part of continued efforts to support a strong shellfish industry in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is conducting two quahog transplants this week. Some 80,000 pounds of adult clams will be transplanted in an effort to enhance shellfish stocks in Narragansett Bay. Licensed shellfish harvesters are invited to participate.
When: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 | 12:00 p.m. Where: Harvest from Greenwich Cove for stocking in Greenwich Bay Shellfish Management Area/Potowomut Spawner Sanctuary
When: Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 12:00 p.m. Where: Harvest from Bristol Harbor for stocking in Bristol Harbor Shellfish Transplant Area
Rhode Island is known for its food and diverse food cultures. The state's booming local food sector supports more than 60,000 jobs and continues to attract and inspire the imagination of entrepreneurs and innovators. The local fishing industry has been, and continues to be, a vital part of the equation. Last year, more than 100 million pounds of seafood arrived to a local port – with an export value over $1 billion. A significant contributor to Rhode Island's commercial fishing industry, wild harvest shellfish support the livelihoods of hundreds of fishers year-round and provide nourishment and enjoyment to Rhode Islanders and tourists. More than 28 million quahogs were harvested from Narragansett Bay and local coastal waters last year, contributing some $5.5 million to the economy; a value that increases significantly as the product hits the market.
In recognition of the economic and cultural value of shellfish, last month, Governor Raimondo, along with many partners, launched the Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative. 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.
Clams harvested during the transplants will enhance shellfish stocks throughout the Bay – as well as support winter harvest opportunities for shellfishermen. As part of the effort, protected broodstock will also be placed in spawner sanctuary to help promote juvenile clam recruitment and increase shellfish numbers in adjacent beds.
Licensed shellfishermen interested in taking part should report to the on-scene DEM enforcement vessel by 8 a.m. on the day of the transplant. DEM environmental police officers will collect fishing licenses, and participants will be paid $7.00 for each 50-pound bag of quahogs harvested. Those who assist in stocking the clams will be paid $10.00 for each 50-pound bag. Fishermen will dig the quahogs and take them to the transplant staging area for accounting.
Transplanted shellfish will be unavailable for harvest until December 2017. This temporary closure will allow the shellfish to spawn and contribute toward replenishing the immediate vicinity and adjacent areas. The shellfish transplant program is a cooperative effort of DEM, Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), Rhode Island Department of Health, and the shellfish industry. Previous transplant efforts have enhanced shellfish stocks in Narragansett Bay and in the South County coastal ponds. Funding for the transplants is provided through NBC.
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.