Quahogging new waters: Section of Providence River to open for shellfishing

For the first time in more than 75 years, shellfishing will be allowed along 1,900 acres of the lower Providence River on a preset, weather-dependent schedule.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) –  Just in time for Rhode Island Quahog Week, the director of the DEM has announced that a section of the Providence River, off limits for shellfishing for more than 75 years, will open on a conditional basis starting next week.

Topher Hamblett is the Director of Advocacy for Save the Bay.  He says, “It’s very exciting news, and a testament to all the great progress that’s been made in cleaning up Narragansett Bay.”

The bay has a history of water pollution problems.

Hamblett says, “Anyone who grew up around here in the 70s and 80s can remember the day when raw sewage was washing up on the beaches of the upper bay.”

Now thanks to decades of cleanup efforts, a 1,900 acre area between Conimicut Point and Gaspee Point will open on a limited schedule starting Wednesday May 26.

Conditional Area Map

Hamblett says, “None of that would have been possible without Rhode Island citizens actually deciding to make investments in these types of wastewater treatment facility improvements.”

With decades of voter-approved funding, wastewater treatment plants have cleaned up their act.  But, there’s still more work to do.  Storm water overflow can still send pollution into the bay, leading to temporary closures.  There are projects underway to address that storm water runoff, but for now the news is a sign things are moving in the right direction.

Hamblett says, “Reopening of more shellfish beds in Quahog Week is a reason to celebrate, and as I said, all Rhode Islanders should be very proud of what we’ve accomplished here.”

That section of the Providence River will only open for shellfishing on a limited schedule, and it’s weather dependent, so be sure to check with the DEM before heading out.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2021

Categories: News, Rhode Island