Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Division of Marine Fisheries
251 Causeway Street, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02114
Fax (617) 626.1509
January 6, 2011
MarineFisheries Announces Conditional Re-Opening of
Malibu and Savin Hill Beach Shellfish Flats
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) is pleased to announce the opening of Malibu Beach and Savin Hill Beach to the Conditionally Restricted commercial harvest of soft-shell clams. Malibu Beach and Savin Hill Beach, Shellfish Growing Area GBH3.11, consists of approximately 19 acres of productive shellfish flats and 34 subtidal acres.
Malibu Beach and Savin Hill Beach are now classified as a Conditionally Restricted shellfish area for the harvest of softshell clams ONLY by Master and Subordinate diggers. Master Diggers are individuals who are specially licensed by the Division of Marine Fisheries and bonded. Only Master Diggers and their harvesters, called Subordinate Diggers, may harvest shellfish from moderately contaminated areas.
Clams harvested from restricted areas must be purified by a process called depuration prior to consumption. A restricted or conditionally restricted area is closed some of the time due to poor water quality primarily from rainfall and resultant runoff and/or to seasonally degraded water quality. When open, Master and Subordinate Diggers harvest the clams and immediately transport them to the MarineFisheries Shellfish Purification Plant via an established “transportation route.”
In contrast, an approved or conditionally approved area is open most of the time. When an approved area is open, shellfish may be harvested for direct human consumption by commercial or recreational diggers.
Softshell clams and other bivalve mollusks become contaminated by filtering and concentrating bacteria and viruses from seawater in the process of feeding and respiration. Contaminated shellfish can transmit pathogenic (disease causing) organisms to people if they are eaten raw or under-cooked. In order to be safely consumed, shellfish must first be purged of these harmful organisms through depuration.
Upon arrival at the Shellfish Purification Plant in Newburyport, clams are placed on pallets and lowered into one of 9-3500 gallon tanks. Tanks are filled with clean salt water from two 130' wells. Depuration is a self-cleansing process where shellfish purge their digestive system of particulates over the course of the treatment. The seawater is continuously recirculated, aerated, and sterilized by ultraviolet light. Clams and process water are tested daily for bacteria on-site for verification. After 2½ to 3 days the shellfish are clean and are then returned to the Master Digger who re-sells them to licensed wholesale shellfish dealers for processing and resale to other dealers and retail seafood markets.
The Purification Plant at Plum Island has been in operation since 1930 and processes an average of 15,000 bushels of softshell clams annually from conditionally restricted areas in Boston Harbor and the Pines and Merrimack Rivers. The Plant operates 24/7 year round.
This area will be open for harvest, as scheduled by MarineFisheries, seasonally: December 1 – March 31, inclusive. Harvesting will not be allowed April 1 – November 30. MarineFisheries only allows harvesting Monday through Friday. There is no Saturday or Sunday digging. In the event of rainfall greater than or equal to 0.50", GBH3.11 will close for 5 days. All Master and Subordinate Diggers are reminded to call the MarineFisheries Shellfish Information System (978‑282‑0308 option 6) prior to digging.For further information please visit our website at www.mass.gov/marinefisheries or contact: Jeff Kennedy at 978‑465‑3553 or Glenn Casey at 978‑282‑0308.