Shellfish

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New Hampshire has oysters, clams and mussels accessible for recreational harvest. License may be required.

  • Mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, etc.) may only be taken from approved areas. (See Shellfish Areas).
  • Motor vehicles are prohibited on clam flats (any tidal area, exposed at low tide, that is capable of growing clams).
  • Call 1-800-43-CLAMS for current open/closed status of NH shellfish areas. Temporary closures during open seasons may occur due to high bacteria levels, red tide or other issues.
  • Sale prohibited. Softshell clams and oysters of N.H. origin, and quahogs, littlenecks and cherrystones (Mercenaria mercenaria) less than 1 inch in shell thickness cannot be sold.
 

2011 Recreational Shellfish Regulations*

Species

Season/Day/Time Restrictions

Size

Limit

License Needed

Notes

Blue Mussels
(Mytilus edulis)

No closed season except for Hampton/Seabrook Estuary

No limit

No limit

No

  • Residents only
  • Personal use only, no sale allowed
  • Harvest by hand or handheld tools only
  • Other mussel species (e.g. horse and ribbed mussel) may also be taken
  • Hampton/Seabrook Estuary only: ½ hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays only, open Nov. 1 – May 31

Oysters

  • Open Sept. – May
  • Sunrise to sunset only

No limit

½ bushel
unshucked/day

Yes

  • Residents only
  • Personal use only, no sale allowed
  • May be taken by hand or tongs only
  • No taking through ice
  • No shucked oysters may be possessed while on or leaving N.H. waters
  • Oyster license number must be permanently marked on outside of container
  • Must have oyster license on person

Sea Scallops

Open November 1 –
April 14

Min. 3½ inches
shell height

200 lbs shucked meats or 1,666 lbs unshucked (shell)/day

No

  • Personal use only, no sale allowed
  • May be taken by diving
  • Must be landed in shell if taken by hand

Softshell Clam
(Mya arenaria)

  • Day after Labor Day – May 31 except for Hampton/Seabrook Estuary
  • Saturday only
  • ½ hr. before sunrise to sunset

No limit

10 liquid quarts unshucked/day

Yes

  • Residents only (6 years of age or older)
  • Personal use only, no sale allowed
  • License must be displayed in plain view while clamming
  • Clam license number must be permanently marked on outside of container
  • Handheld tools only, with handles not exceeding 18 inches.
  • No shucked clams allowed on or while leaving N.H. waters
  • Hampton/Seabrook Estuary only: ½ hour before sunrise to sunset on Saturdays only, open Nov. 1 – May 31

Quahog, little neck
or cherrystone clam (Mercenaria mercenaria)

No open season

Other Bivalve Mollusks (surf & razor clams, mahogany quahog)

No closed season

No limit

No limit

No

  • Residents only
  • Harvest by hand or handheld tools only
  • Harvest of surf clams and quahogs limited to approved water within 500 feet of low tide line

Whelks

  • No closed season
  • Harvest only from
    1 hr. before sunrise to sunset

Min. 2½ inches

5/day

No

  • Personal use only, no sale allowed
  • Residents only

2011 Commercial Shellfish Regulations*

Species

Season/Day/Time Restrictions

Size

Limit

License Needed

Notes

Sea Scallops

Open November 1 – April 14

Min. 3½ inches
shell height

200 lbs shucked meats or 1,666 lbs unshucked
(shell)/day

Yes

  • May be taken by diving or one dredge only
  • Must be landed in shell if taken by hand
  • Dredge: width limit = maximum 4 feet., ring size = 4 inches, minimum mesh size = 10 inches
  • No obstructions, chafing gear or liners attached in dredge
  • No possession of other marine species when dredging except surf clams and mahogany quahogs and only in accordance with species regulations

Other Bivalve Mollusks (surf and razor clams, mahogany quahog)

No closed season

No limit

500 unshucked bushels/day

Yes

  • Dredge blade/knife/manifold: maximum 48 inches.
  • Monthly reporting required: Contact Marine Division (603) 868-1095

Whelks

  • No closed season
  • Harvest only from
    1 hr. before sunrise to sunset

Min. 2½ inches

No limit

Yes

  • Harvest by pot, trap or other contrivance
  • Each buoy and trap shall be marked with a “W” and the first initial and last name of licensee when fishing solely for whelks

*Important Note: Temporary closures of shellfishing areas may occur due to high bacteria count or red tide or other pollution concerns.
For updates, call the Clam Flat Hotline at 1-800-43-CLAMS.

Shellfish illustrations: ©Hans Hillewaert CC 2.5: Mahogany Quahog, Razor clam;
©Invertzoo GNU Free Documentation License: Surf Clam; ©Fisheries and Oceans Canada:
Waved Whelk; ©NHFG/Victor Young: Ribbed Mussel; ©Pallbo: Blue Mussel

 

New Hampshire is fortunate to have a rich variety of molluscan shellfish. Some of the most frequently seen are easy to identify by their shell shape and color.

 

NOTE: SHELLFISH CLOSURES MAY CHANGE

Most of New Hampshire’s coastal waters (up to 3 miles offshore) are open to shellfish harvest, with the exception of surf clams and quahogs, which can be harvested for consumption within 500 feet seaward of the low tide line. In addition, several small areas along the coast are closed due to pollution concerns. These areas include the outlets of Parsons Creek and Eel Pond in Rye, an unnamed creek near Bass Beach in Rye, and Chapel Brook. All waters within 750 feet of each outlet are closed to shellfish harvest. Additionally, all waters within 1,500 feet of Little River (near North Hampton State Beach) are closed to shellfish harvest. Also closed are areas around the wastewater treatment plant outfalls at Wallis Sands State Park, the Town of Seabrook, and Star Island (Isles of Shoals).

Other areas may close temporarily at any time. For up-to-date information, call Fish and Game’s Clam Flat Hotline at 1-800-43-CLAMS, check  Marine Resources, and consult the information and maps on DES’s Shellfish Program website (search “shellfish”).

RED TIDE

Red tide is caused by the accumulation of toxins from one-celled organisms. The toxins may be stored in the bodies of filter-feeding bivalves, such as clams, mussels and oysters, which ingest the organisms. Humans who eat the shellfish may become afflicted with paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), which can cause death through respiratory paralysis. Mussel samples are tested weekly from April to October. If PSP toxins exceed state standards for consumption, shellfish harvesting areas are closed and public notice given via news media and the Fish and Game website. Contact Fish and Game Marine Fisheries Division at (603) 868-1095 or the Department of Environmental Services at (603) 559-1509, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., for updated information. Even when red tide closures are not in effect, some areas may be closed to the taking of shellfish (see Shellfish Closures May Change).

 

Blue_mussel_Pallbo F.psd

Blue Mussel

 

 

ribbed mussel.psd

Ribbed Mussel

 

 

Horse Mussel.psd

Horse Mussel

 

 

sea scallop F.psd

Sea Scallop

 

 

easternoyster 2F.psd

Oyster

 

 

wavedwhelk.psd

Waved Whelk

 

 

Surf Clam Spisula_solidissima Invertzoo GNU Free Documentation License.psd

Surf Clam

 

 

easternsoftshell F.psd

Softshell Clam

 

 

colus_stimpsoni2.psd

Stimpsons Whelk

 

 

Razor clam Ensis_directus Hans Hillewaert CC 2.5.psd

Razor Clam

 

 

Mahogany Quahog Arctica islandica Hans Hillewaert CC 2.5.psd

Mahogany Quahog

 

 

hardshell clam F.psd

Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria)

 

 

 


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