For Immediate Release - July 18, 2013

New Regulations Affecting the Commercial Harvest of Whelks in State Waters

The Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) has enacted new regulations affecting the commercial whelk fishery (322 CMR 6.12 and 6.21). These regulatory amendments: 1) establish a standard procedure for gauging knobbed and channeled whelks and eliminate the undersized possession tolerance for these species; 2) prohibit the baiting of all pot gear, other than conch pots and eel pots, with horseshoe crabs; and 3) beginning in 2014, increase the minimum shell width for channeled whelk from 2 ¾ inches to 3 inches, through two consecutive annual ⅛ inch increases.

These regulations are the product of a two-year study into the state’s channeled whelk resource and fishery. This was a groundbreaking life history study for the species, showing that throughout southern Massachusetts female channeled whelk are not sexually mature at the current minimum shell width of 2 ¾ inches. Furthermore, resource conservation issues associated with allowing the harvest of sexually immature channeled whelks have been exacerbated by an increase in fishing effort and landings over the past decade, attributable to the decline of the Southern New England lobster stock and a substantial increase in the price of channeled whelk. This suite of regulations is the first step in improving conservation of the whelk resource. MarineFisheries will continue to study whelks and the fisheries that target them to determine if subsequent management measures are necessary.

For a copy of MarineFisheries’ whelk regulations, please contact Jared Silva by e-mail ( or by phone (617-626-1534). For more information regarding the state’s management of whelks and the conch pot fishery, please visit our website: