This panel provides for enhanced communication between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and members of the shellfish community on matters of interest to shellfish resources and shellfish fisheries. It includes a diverse mix of stakeholders from throughout the state, including state government officials, recreational and commercial harvesters, seafood dealers and processors, aquaculturists, researchers, conservationists, and municipal shellfish officials.
Who we serve
The Shellfish Advisory Panel (SAP) was formally established by the Massachusetts legislature in 2021 (G.L. c. 130, §1C). Its purpose is to provide a public body to advise DMF on matters related to shellfish and create a forum for the dissemination of information relevant to shellfish resources and management and the discussion of emerging shellfish-related issues. This legislative action broadened and formalized an existing body, created by DMF on an ad-hoc basis in 2014, and was a primary objective of the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative’s Strategic Plan.
To achieve these goals, the Panel will meet at least 2 times annually to address ongoing matters of importance and emerging issues related to shellfish resources, fisheries, and management. SAP membership includes eight legislatively appointed officials from state government or their designees. This includes the DMF Director, who serves as the Chair; the Commissioners from the Department of Agricultural Resources and Department of Environmental Protection; the Directors of the Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Department of Public Health’s Food Protection Program; the Executive Director of the Commission on Indian Affairs; and the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. Additionally, there are 14 members from Massachusetts’ shellfish community. These members are appointed by the DMF Director for three-year terms and may be reappointed. The statute requires they include: a member of the National Sea Grant College Program; two retail or wholesale shellfish dealers; three commercial fishermen, one involved in a state-managed wild harvest shellfish fishery and two involved in a municipally managed wild harvest shellfish fishery; three aquaculturists; one recreational shellfish fisherman; two municipal shellfish constables nominated by the Massachusetts Shellfish Officers Association; a representative from the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission; and a member of the shellfish conservation community.
The following is a list of Panel members:
Jim Abbott - Recreational/Subsistence Harvester, father of 5 Cape Cod daughters, 5 sons in-laws, and 9 grandkids all of whom shellfish. Jim is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, specializing in Pediatrics, and is a charter boat Captain with a 100-ton Master’s license with Towing and Sailing endorsements. Jim has been fishing and shellfishing his entire lifetime. Jim has nurtured the love of the sport in his Family and Friends. He primarily shellfishes in the Town of Barnstable and as a guest in Sandwich and Yarmouth where he resides.
Ron Bergstrom - South Shore/Cape & Islands Wild Harvester, has held a MA commercial shellfish permit since 1975 and has derived the greater part of his income from the wild harvest of quahogs, mussels and scallops. He served four terms as a Chatham Selectman and is currently serving as Barnstable County Commissioner.
Bob Colby, North Shore Wild Harvester
Amy Anne Croteau - Cape & Islands Representative, is a Senior Natural Resource Officer and Shellfish Constable in the Town of Barnstable. Amy graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 2003 with a BS in marine biology. She started working for the Town of Barnstable in 2006 with the Shellfish Propagation Program growing quahogs and oysters while learning the ropes of aquaculture. In 2009, Amy moved over to the regulatory side of Shellfish and has been an enforcement agent of the shellfishery in Barnstable for over 12 years.
Michael DeVasto - Commercial Aquaculturist, is co-owner of Field Point Oyster Farm in Wellfleet. The farm has been in his family since 1985 and he has extensive aquaculture experience. Michael currently serves on the Wellfleet Selectboard, the Wellfleet Affordable Housing Trust, and was a member of the Mass Shellfish Initiative Task Force. He holds a BFA from Mass College of Art and Design.
William Doyle - Liason to MFAC, has spent his entire working career in the seafood industry as a fisherman, processor, farmer, and distributor. Together with his wife, Beth, and son Connor, he cultivates oysters on offshore aquaculture sites in Plymouth. Their company, Plymouth Rock Oyster Growers distributes their oysters across the country, abroad, and online. Bill also serves on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission and Seafood Marketing Commission.
Renee Gagne - Shellfish Constable, is currently the Shellfish Constable for the Town of Chatham and has held the position for over ten years. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for MA Shellfish Officers’ Association. She began her career in the fisheries after graduating from the University of New Hampshire in 1983 and moved to Chatham “just for the summer”. Through the 1980’s, she worked off-shore as a deckhand on long-line boats targeting cod, haddock, pollock, and bluefin tuna. With the explosion of soft-shell clam sets on Monomoy Island in the early 1990’s, Renee focused her attention on digging clams until her appointment as Constable. She is proud to say she purchased her home in Chatham with clam money. Renee also studied at the University of Rhode Island’s Master of Marine Affairs Program concentrating in fisheries law and policy and contributed as a consultant on a number of fisheries-related socio-economic studies.
Seth Garfield - Commercial Aquaculturist, is the owner of Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms in operation since 1981. Seth is the President of the Board of the Mass Aquaculture Association. He is also the past President of the South Coast Comm Foundation. Seth is a founding member of the Buzzards Bay Coalition. Seth holds a Master’s degree in Emergency Management from Mass Maritime Academy. He graduated from URI with a Bachelor’s in Zoology.
Alex Hay - Retail & Wholesale Dealer, has been involved with the Massachusetts seafood industry for over 25 years beginning in retail and moving into wholesale. He is the owner of seafood dealer/processor Wellfleet Shellfish Co. and owner/operator of a surf clam vessel. He is active within the DMF SAP, the DMF Seafood Marketing Advisory Panel, an ISSC sub-committee member, a trustee of MAA, and V.P. of the ECSGA. He lives with his family in Wellfleet.
Stephen Kirk - NGO Representative, is the coastal program manager for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. His responsibilities include developing, implementing, and monitoring statewide and regional coastal conservation strategies. His current work is focused on advancing the policy and practice of coastal nature-based solutions including nearshore habitat/shellfish restoration, living shorelines, and shellfish aquaculture. Before joining TNC, Steve spent his professional life working on the water as an oyster farmer, fisheries researcher, and captain of tugboats and tall ships. He holds a Masters in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a B.A. in Geography from the University of Vermont. His spare time is spent at the water’s edge with his young family.
Dale Leavitt - Commercial Aquaculturist, is an Emeritus Professor of Marine Biology retired from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI where he split his time between teaching and research/outreach. He completed his PhD in Animal Nutrition at the University of Maine, studying nutritional bio-energetics of the American lobster. Prior to his appointment at RWU in 2003, he spent twenty-two years starting as a Research Associate and evolving to Sea Grant Marine Extension Program Leader at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Aquaculture Extension Specialist at Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. His entire professional career has focused on aspects of shellfish biology and culture, from physiological impacts of environmental contaminants to improved engineering of culture technology. With his retirement from academia in July 2020, he continues as a principal in an engineering consulting company designing seawater systems for research/educational facilities and is a partner in two shellfish/kelp farms located in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett, MA.
Josh Reitsma - National Sea Grant College Program Representative, received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Unity College and a master’s degree in aquaculture and fisheries from the University of RI. He has worked with the restoration and aquaculture of shellfish in a variety of capacities. Since 2009, he has worked as a Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist with Cape Cod Cooperative Extension and Woods Hole Sea Grant, providing educational programming and applied research related to shellfish here in Massachusetts.
Allen Rencurrel - Vessel Owner & Captain, has been fishing for over 35 years in the surf clams, ocean quahog, bay quahog and scallop industry here in Massachusetts. His three fishing vessels fish both state and federal waters out of Hyannis. He has also dredged for ocean quahogs in Nantucket Sound. Allen operates a surf clam processing plant in New Bedford, Nantucket Sound Seafood, LLC., which caters to Cape Cod, Boston, and local areas.
Mike Trupiano - Retail & Wholesale Dealer, has been involved in the local and international fresh and frozen seafood business for 30 years. Mike has worked for Ipswich Shellfish Company for most of those years. He currently holds the position of General Manager of the Ipswich, MA facility, and has held the position since 2002. Mike’s main responsibility is to oversee day-to-day operations which include production, procurement, sales, and administration. Ipswich Shellfish Company is an 86 year old company with diverse markets; distributing over 500 fresh and frozen products locally as well as internationally.