Shellfish Harvester Training


Starting in 2016, CRMC will be requiring all shellfish farming business owners to attend a harvester training class to meet new federal regulations.

The FDA and the interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference have recently mandated that states carry out periodic harvester training to ensure that all harvesters are fully aware of the regulations required to ensure that our shellfish are wholesome and safe.

The CRMC will be offering three sessions in 2016 and anyone holding an aquaculture lease or intending to apply for a lease should sign up to attend one of these sessions.  The sessions will address the specific requirements of aquaculture lease holders. The harvest of shellfish during the warm-weather months requires special attention due to the potential for food-born illness related to Vibrio bacteria.

Sessions will cover all of the federal and state shellfish harvesting regulations including tagging requirements, harvest area specifications, vessel design and maintenance regulations, and more.  Much of the course will focus on explaining the new state Vibrio Management Plan and the new harvest controls implemented in 2015. These restrictions are designed to protect shellfish from thermal abuse during summer months to prevent the post-harvest growth of Vibrio bacteria and ensure wholesome shellfish.

The courses are part of a collaborative effort between the Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant at URI, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, and Roger Williams University. The lead instructor will be Dr. Robert Rheault, an aquaculture industry expert. Work is funded by NOAA’s National Sea Grant program.

Vibrios are naturally-occurring bacteria that are common in warm sea water and can cause food-born illness in shellfish consumers. Shellfish harvesters and farmers need to understand the importance of keeping shellfish cool to prevent the proliferation of Vibrios to ensure that shellfish are safe.  This is particularly true for shellfish that are destined for raw consumption.  While it is also important for shellfish dealers, restaurants and consumers to keep shellfish cold, harvesters have a critical role in ensuring that Vibrios are controlled at the source.  It is important that harvesters and farmers understand the new Vibrio control regulations so we can protect public health and maintain the outstanding reputation of Rhode Island shellfish in the marketplace.

Courses are free and open to the public however space is limited so registration is encouraged. Drop-ins permitted as space allows. The course will be offered on three separate days; participants are only required to attend one of the days.

January, 28th, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm, URI/GSO Narragansett Bay Campus, Hazards Room, Coastal Institute building.  Click here to register for 1/28 class.

February 17th, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm, URI/GSO Narragansett bay Campus, Large Conference Room, Coastal Institute building.  Click here to register for 2/17 class.

March 14th, 2016, 6:00-8:00pm, Roger Williams University, Room 200 in the Marine and Natural Science Building.  Click here to register for 3/14 class.

For more information, please contact Dr. Rheault ( or Azure Cygler (