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Shellfish Regulations

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing

Shellfishing is prohibited statewide between sunset and sunrise.

Oysters – The season is open from September 15 to May 15 (inclusive).

Scallops – The season opens sunrise the first Saturday in November and closes at sunset on December 31.

Consult “Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Regulations: Shellfish” of the Marine Fisheries Statutes and Regulations for specific shellfishing regulations. http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/fishwild/rimftoc.htm

Resident Recreational Shellfishing – No License Required

Any resident of this State may, without a license, take quahogs, soft-shelled clams, mussels, surf clams, oysters (in season), and bay scallops (in season). Harvested shellfish may not be sold or offered for sale. (See below for possession limits in Shellfish Management Areas and Non-Management Areas).

Non-Resident Recreational Shellfishing – Licensed Individuals Only

Holders of a non-resident shellfishing license may take quahogs, soft-shelled clams, mussels, surf clams, oysters (in season). (See below for possession limits in Shellfish Management Areas and Non-Management Areas). There is no taking of lobsters, blue crabs, or bay scallops by non-residents.

Non-Resident Property Owners

A nonresident landowner who owns residential real estate in Rhode Island assessed for taxation at a value of not less than thirty thousand dollars may, with proof of property ownership, obtain an annual, non-commercial, non-resident shellfish license for a fee of twenty-five dollars. This license holds the same restrictions and allowable daily catch limits as a licensed non-resident.

Shellfish Management Areas:

Potter, Point Judith, Ninigret (Charlestown), Quonochontaug, and Winnapaug (Brightman) Ponds, Greenwich Bay, Bristol Harbor, Potowomut (Areas A, B and C), and Bissel Cove, Kickemuit River, High Banks, Mill Gut, Jenny’s Creek (closed until further notice). Additionally, certain Shellfish Management Areas, have limited fishing days and seasonal requirements for commercial harvest.

Area specific regulations may apply. Consult “Part IV Shellfish” of the Marine Fisheries Statutes and Regulations at http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/fishwild/rimf_shell.pdf

Shellfishing Areas with Harvest
Restrictions Due to Water Quality:

Certain areas are subject to permanent, seasonal, and rainfall-induced shellfishing closures. Consult http://www.dem.ri.gov/maps/mapfile/shellfsh.pdf for current maps and regulations or contact the Division of Water Resources at (401) 222-3961. For current rainfall-induced closure restrictions call (401) 222-2900. Please be responsible; be aware of all harvesting restrictions.

Spawner Sanctuaries and
Shellfishing Moratoria:

Certain waters of the state are permanently closed to shellfishing, allowing maintenance, restoration, and enhancement wild broodstock. Areas include portions of Winnapaug Pond, Quonochontaug Pond, Ninigret Pond, Potter Pond, Potowomut, and Jenny’s Creek in its entirety. Consult “Part IV Shellfish” of the Marine Fisheries Statutes and Regulations: http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/regs/fishwild/rimf4.pdf

Minimum Sizes for Shellfish:

Quahog = 1 inch hinge width

Soft-Shelled Clam* = 2 inches

Oyster* = 3 inches

Bay Scallop = No seed possession

Surf Clam* = 5 inches

Channeled or

Knobbed Whelks = 3 inches width or 5 3/8 inches length

* Measured in a straight line parallel to the long axis of the animal.

Daily Possession Limits for Quahogs, Soft-Shell Clams, Surf Clams, Mussels, and Oysters (Bay Scallops Excluded) in:

Shellfish Management Areas

Resident (no sale) = 1 peck each per person

Licensed Non-Resident (no sale) = ½ peck each per person

Non-Management Areas

Resident (no sale) = 1/2 bushel each per person

Licensed Non-Resident (no sale) = 1 peck each per person

Dry Measure Equivalents

1 peck = 2 gallons

½ peck = 1 gallon

1 bushel = 8 gallons

½ bushel = 4 gallons

Whelks

1/2 bushel per person

1 bushel per vessel max

Residents only