Press Release

Press Release Division of Marine Fisheries Expands Shellfish Harvest Closures to All Waters South of Cape Cod

For immediate release:
10/11/2016
  • Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
  • Department of Fish and Game
  • Division of Marine Fisheries

Media Contact for Division of Marine Fisheries Expands Shellfish Harvest Closures to All Waters South of Cape Cod

Katie Gronendyke,

Boston — October 11, 2016 – Effective immediately, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has expanded its recently announced shellfish harvest closures to include all waters south of Cape Cod due to a substantial bloom of a potentially toxic kind of phytoplankton termed Pseudo-Nitzschia.  As a result of the expanded closure, digging, harvesting, collecting and/or attempting to dig, harvest or collect shellfish, and the possession of shellfish, is prohibited in all waters from the Rhode Island border east to Nantucket Sound, including all of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds and waters surrounding the islands. This closure complements the state of Rhode Island’s shellfish harvest closures.  

Pseudo-Nitzschia can produce domoic acid, a biotoxin that concentrates in filter feeding shellfish. Shellfish containing high concentrations of domoic acid can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) with symptoms that include vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and incapacitating headaches followed by confusion, disorientation, permanent loss of short-term memory, and in severe cases, seizures and coma.  

Throughout the weekend, DMF staff collected shellfish samples in closed areas and in areas that remain open, like Cape Cod Bay.  These samples are being analyzed by an independent laboratory for toxin to determine whether it is necessary to maintain or possibly expand the closures.  If shellfish are found to be non-toxic, the waters will be reopened.  

To better understand the ongoing algae bloom event, DMF is cooperating with experts in the field of toxic algae from other states, its federal partners and private research institutions.  DMF will continue monitoring the phytoplankton bloom and possible shellfish toxins and work with state partners to document this unusual plankton event.  

None of the closures to date have affected the harvest of whelks, or the harvest of scallops for purposes of extracting and selling or consuming the adductor muscle. Shellfish closure notices can be found on the DMF website.  

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Media Contact for Division of Marine Fisheries Expands Shellfish Harvest Closures to All Waters South of Cape Cod

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs 

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs seeks to protect, preserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s environmental resources while ensuring a clean energy future for the state’s residents. Through the stewardship of open space, protection of environmental resources, and enhancement of clean energy, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs works tirelessly to make Massachusetts a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Department of Fish and Game 

The Department of Fish & Game works to preserve the state's natural resources and exercises responsibility over the Commonwealth's marine and freshwater fisheries, wildlife species, plants, and natural communities, as well as the habitats that support them.

Division of Marine Fisheries 

The Division of Marine Fisheries manages the state’s commercial and recreational saltwater fisheries and oversees other services that support the marine environment and fishing communities.

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