PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is announcing that the excessive rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida have necessitated closures of shellfish harvesting for many of the state's shellfish harvest areas in Narragansett Bay and the coastal salt ponds.
Narragansett Bay: Upper Bay shellfish conditional Area A, and Upper Bay Area B closed today at noon and will remain closed until Sunday, Sept. 12, at noon. Greenwich Bay closed today at noon and is scheduled to reopen at noon on Thursday, Sept. 9. In addition, the waters south of Conditional Area B to a line from Quonset Point to the southern tip of Prudence Island to Carr Point in Portsmouth closed at noon today and are scheduled to reopen at noon on Thursday, Sept. 9. Mount Hope Bay and the Kickemuit River closed today at noon and are closed until further notice.
Coastal salt ponds: Shellfish harvest in the coastal salt ponds (Point Judith Pond, Potter Pond, Ninigret Pond, Quonochontaug Pond, and Winnapaug Pond) closed at noon today and is scheduled to reopen at noon on Thursday, Sept. 9.
The shellfish harvest closures were put into effect after the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through the area and dropped about four to eight inches of rain in Rhode Island. This excessive rain caused extreme stormwater runoff and, in some areas, triggered wastewater treatment bypasses, combined sewer overflows, and sewer system overflows that can convey contaminants into shellfish harvest areas. Previously collected data indicate that these conditions result in bacterial levels that are not acceptable for shellfish harvesting in the waters listed above.
Rhode Island shellfish are much sought-after seafood because of a long history of delivering a high-quality product. This is achieved by diligent monitoring of shellfish harvesting waters and protecting public health with a high level of oversight when conditions indicate a change in water quality either from natural sources such as algae blooms or by the quick response to emergency conditions. DEM, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, along with industry partners, collaborate to ensure that shellfish grown and harvested from Rhode Island waters continues to be a quality, safe seafood product to be enjoyed by all consumers.
For more information on the shellfish harvesting classifications, review the annual notice available at RIDEM - Shellfish. An interactive shellfishing map is also available.
For information on emergency and conditional area water quality related shellfish closures, call DEM's 24-hour shell fishing hotline at 401-222-2900, visit www.dem.ri.gov/shellfish, or sign up for the Office of Water Resources' listserv here: RishellfishOWRfirstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.