- 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
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.