DEM announces Mount Hope Bay shellfishing opening, seasonal closures
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (WLNE) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced that it is opening a 515-acre area off the coast of Warren in the Mount Hope Bay to shellfishing, alongside a number of area closures due to water quality impact.
The opening, which will occur at sunrise on Sunday, May 28, comes after the department’s water quality tests earlier this month confirmed a year-over-year trend of improvement and that it meets federal safety standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
The area off Touisset Point had been closed to shellfishing for decades because of poor water quality, but recent improvements in wastewater treatment and combined sewer overflow capture in Fall River resulted in improved water quality, the department said.
“From the opening of the Providence River to quahogging for the first time in 75 years in 2021, to the opening of new shellfishing grounds in Greenwich Bay in 2022, to the Mount Hope Bay reopening in 2023, the trend toward better water quality in Narragansett Bay is clear,” DEM Director Terry Gray said. “The improvements propelling this progress — replacing and phasing out outmoded cesspools that pollute groundwater, upgrading wastewater treatment facilities, and improving collection and treatment of stormwater — have not come cheaply, but they’ve been worth every penny because the bay is cleaner and healthier than it’s been in generations.”
The DEM also announced that six shellfish harvest areas will see closures starting Saturday, May 27 because of potential water quality impacts associated with marinas and mooring fields.
The seasonal closure areas are within Bristol Harbor, the Dutch Harbor area in Jamestown, Fishing Cove in Wickford Harbor, Great Salt Pond and Trims Pond on Block Island, Potter Cove on Prudence Island, and Sakonnet Harbor in Little Compton.
Small seasonal marina closures in the southern coastal ponds, Fort Wetherill, and the Kickemuit River in Warren will also go into effect.
A five-acre parcel near the entrance to Nanaquaket Pond in Tiverton will be approved for shellfish harvesting also starting Saturday.
All openings and closings will be in effect until Oct. 10.