Presentations from the HAB Monitoring Workshop- September 2017

HABS_screenshotPosted on behalf of RI DEM:

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and partners held an informational meeting on September 12th to review Rhode Island’s new monitoring and contingency response plan for harmful algae blooms (HAB). Last year, Rhode Island experienced its first HAB caused by the presence of toxic phytoplankton in local waters; the event triggered an emergency closure of the state’s shellfishing areas. A subsequent bloom earlier this year resulted in a second emergency closure of some waters.

Presentations on HAB were given by DEM, RI Department of Health, and researchers at URI and DEM. All presentations are posted here HAB Monitoring Plan Workshop Presentations_Sept2017.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

Perspectives of Life – past and present – on Point Judith Pond


Rhode Island author, Prentice Stout, will present perspectives of life – past and present – on Point Judith Pond. Join him on Wednesday, March 9th at the Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown, from 5:30PM-7:00PM. Refreshments will be served – Please rsvp to or 401-874-6197.

Prentice has devoted his entire career to teaching, filming and writing about nature. His travels have taken him and wife, Patty, from Antarctica to the Galapagos. However, his real love of place has always been Point Judith Pond, a spot he calls “A Place of Quiet Waters” which also serves as the title for his 2006 book. Prentice has served as an enthusiastic educator at Camp Fuller and greatly enjoys seeing young adults learn and thrive as they come to deeply understand the pond’s many assets and ecosystem.

Part of Rhode Island’s Coastal Salt Ponds and You: A Public Education Series.

Spring 2015 SMP Newsletter

Welcome and long-live the long-awaited SPRING! We hope you’re all bustling like birds and bees with house, farm, and fishing projects. We’ve all survived the winter and now it’s time to look ahead to bright and productive spring & summer seasons!

On the SMP front, work has continued. Some news to share:

    • The SMP Implementation Team, composed of state and industry leaders, is hard at work developing a strategy to make your SMP recommendations happen.
    • A SMP stakeholder meeting will be held on Thurs. June 25th, 5:00-7:00pm in Corless Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus to discuss the SMP Implementation of recommendations,research opportunities, and upcoming events. Feature presentation on shellfish restoration work by RWU’s Matt Griffin.
    • The SMP Team is working hard in partnership with our state and national leadership to formally launch a Rhode Island Shellfish Initiative, in alignment with NOAA’s National Shellfish Initiative. A state initiative will keep the focus and momentum on shellfish resources, industries, and local seafood promotion in the state as well as generate new and exciting synergies and opportunities.
    • RI DEM, the wild harvest shellfish industry, and the Department of Health successfully crafted new shellfish handling regulations to help maintain the excellent reputation for quality and safety of Rhode Island-harvested shellfish. Full regulations can be found here on page 26.
    • Rhode Island Sea Grant is offering funding for 2016-2018 research projects related
      to: a) improved understanding of shellfish stock assessment and populations, and b) impacts of climate change on finfish and shellfish in Narragansett Bay. More info can be found here; proposals are due June 1st.
    • Be sure to join the shellfish community and our state leadership on May 28th, 11:30am- 5:00pm for Agriculture Day at the State House in Providence. Amongst the festivities & food, the winners of this year’s Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) grants will be announced.
    • Looking down the pike, some events to mark on your calendars: The 4th Annual  Quahoggers Jamboree on June 24th from 5-8pm at the Warwick Library; 2nd Annual Oyster Festival on June 21st @ 11am in Bristol ; August 7/8/9th is the annual Charlestown Seafood Festival; Sept. 12/13th is the Rhode Island Seafood Festival in Galilee; and Sept.19th is the Ocean State Oyster Festival in Providence.  These are only some of the many shellfish-related events sure to happen this summer. Stay tuned; we’ll post more as we hear of them. If you have an event to share, please email us!
    • Summer season is approaching which means digging your own shellfish! Remember to KEEP IT COLD! Bring ice packs and a cooler with you to the clam flats, do not leave shellfish in a hot car, and refrigerate in a dry bowl when you return home. Cold shellfish are safe shellfish!
    • RI DEM will be carrying on the SMP tradition and hosting three “Clamming 101” classes this summer. Dates to be decided; contact Kim.Sullivan@DEM.RI.Gov for more info and to sign up.
    • Reminder: In February, the RI DEM Office of Water Resources’ Shellfish Program went live with a new and improved website, complete with an interactive shellfish map and new email address going directly to shellfish program staff to better respond to missing/damaged signs or data requests. The email: and website.

Remember, the SMP document can be found at:  There will be future opportunity to update the SMP; we’ll keep you posted. Hope to see you soon! As always, feel free to contact us or stop by to share news/events/concerns. or 401.874.6197.

Thank you,
The SMP Team

A special thank to RI Shellfish Management Plan publication contributors.


On behalf of the SMP Team, we’d like to thank you for a successful and fun Final Event Celebration!

On Nov.17th, many gathered at the URI Bay Campus to celebrate the newly-released R.I. Shellfish Management Plan (affectionately called the SMP), a hallmark effort to improve management and science around shellfish in the state. With over 100 people in attendance, including Governor Lincoln Chafee, Senator Sosnowski, and dignitaries from our state agencies and universities, as well as the valuable presence of industry groups and citizens alike, it was an event to remember. The event was intended to be celebratory, to appreciate the monumental efforts of many individuals and groups who shaped the plan and its management and science recommendations. Good vibes and words were shared by all.

But one thing was missing from the festivities: A proper thank you to a few individuals who really were the glue behind the SMP. Unfortunately, in an attempt to keep comments brief and allow plenty of time to mingle and share kind words, we did not properly acknowledge these few individuals – As a backdrop, it is important to emphasize that behind the scenes, almost weekly for the last two years, have been five people who have helped sort through what we hear, what issues arise, what needs surface, and what actions should be taken. These individuals were Dale Leavitt (RWU), Jeff Mercer (DEM), Dave Beutel (CRMC), Monique LaFrance (GSO) and Jen McCann (CRC/RI SG). What some may not realize, which I want to impress upon you all now, is that without these folks, the SMP and all its early successes would not have happened.

It was Dale’s knowledge, experience and ability to see opportunity in any concern or issue that helped bring this SMP to life, infusing science and real-world application which lent validity, perspective, and integrity to the process and outcomes. Jeff has offered intense time and efforts on the SMP, showing industry that DEM has been listening and translating tough policies and decisions.—Jeff’s ability to work across multiple sectors of the shellfish community has brought tangible benefits to management and science.—Dave’s thoroughness in assuring a sound aquaculture management process in this state in conjunction with his belief and willingness to reach over agency lines to collaborate on important topics, has proven fruitful; Dave has been a steady island in a sea of positive changes for aquaculture, keeping people on firm ground during tough processes.—Monique’s integral efforts throughout the SMP on work such as the use maps and critical writing, has helped ensure the outcomes make sense and are tractable. And it is through Jen’s support and sound leadership that the SMP process remained true to its principles and vision of openness and broad stakeholder involvement.

And a special thank you to those in the industry – wild harvest and aquaculture – who continue to donate their time and experience to not only the SMP process, but to management overall, lending real-world knowledge and creative thinking to make this a truly democratic process.

At the event, a few individuals were recognized and received awards for giving 110% to the SMP process. Congratulations to: Mike McGiveney, Robert Rheault, Jody King, Katie Eagan, Art Ganz, Jim Arnoux, and the Rhode Island Shellfishermen’s Association for their exceptional service and contribution to shellfish.

And shout outs to all the many who made this Plan possible – THANK YOU!

Without all these folks meeting and giving their hearts and souls these last two years, we would simply be where we started in 2013: Wanting reform but with no road to get there. So thank you SMP Team – Your energy and skills are invaluable to this state!

Please visit to view the RI Shellfish Management Plan, Version II, and associated appendices. Please remember this is a living document and we encourage your feedback and comments. In 2015, CRC/RI Sea Grant will work with DEM and CRMC to develop an Implementation Plan, a Research Agenda, and activate on some of the recommendations in the SMP. We will also review and add new information to the SMP as it becomes available and will keep you updated through this listserv. Press and the SMP video will soon be posted on the website, so check back often.

Other information on the website:

If you would like to receive a copy of Rhode Island’s Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History, available in 2015, please send an email to:

Keep up the excellent work and dedication everyone – We look forward to working with you in 2015!

DEM’s Shellfish Regulation Reform Initiative

Shared on Behalf of the RI Department of Environmental Management

DEM’s Shellfish Regulation Reform Initiative

Through May 2014, DEM’s regulations governing marine fisheries had been comprised of twenty-one (21) separate regulations, or “Parts.” Of these, six (6) Parts addressed shellfish, totaling approximately 66 pages. They were:

  • Part IV — Shellfish;
  • Part V — Bay Scallops;
  • Part VI — Dredging for Shellfish;
  • Part VIII — Oyster Regulations;
  • Part IX — Shellfish Buyer’s License – Statutes;
  • Part XVIII — Shellfish Grounds.

Much of the regulatory provisions set forth in these 66 pages involved duplicative language, conflicting and/or inaccurate language, non-regulatory programmatic language, non-prescriptive statutory language, and references to repealed statutory provisions. The regulations were, at best, difficult to read and challenging to understand. To address these issues, DEM launched a regulatory reform initiative aimed at streamlining, correcting, and clarifying all of the marine fisheries regulations, beginning with shellfish. The initiative involved a lot of regulatory revisions, but no substantive regulatory changes.

As it turns out, one of the early recommendations that emerged from the SMP process was to improve the clarity and readability of DEM’s shellfish regulations. The timing was perfect, in that DEM had already launched its regulatory reform initiative, with shellfish as the first phase. The initiative took on enhanced meaning and purpose, thanks to the nudge from the SMP process.


On May 8, 2014, DEM completed the regulatory review process for the revised shellfish regulations and filed with the RI Secretary of State final regulatory changes. Highlights of those changes included:

  • Reduction of the shellfish regulations from six (6) separate Parts into one regulatory document addressing all shellfish species (no longer called “Parts”; the single document is now simply called “RIMFR – Shellfish”)
  • Over 60% reduction in number of pages (from 66 to 26 pages)
  • Improved section titles reflecting actual contents of each section
  • Improved table of contents, listing all section titles (prior regulations identified just one section — “Regulations” — covering the entire document, making it impossible for the reader to navigate to a specific topic)
  • Reduction of long sections covering multiple topics into shorter, more concise paragraphs addressing single topics.
  • Removal of non-prescriptive statutory language (prior regulations included all statutory provisions authorizing the Director to enact regulations on various issues; placing such enabling authority into regulations yielded no information of value)
  • Removal of repealed and/or obsolete language;
  • Removal of penalty provisions and specific monetary amounts for violations; replaced with a general penalty and appeal provision (many of the penalties and/or monetary amounts for violations were drawn from obsolete statutes and were thus inaccurate; the authority for assessing penalties for violations of DEM marine fishery regulations lies with DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement , which utilizes a separate set of regulations for the exercise of that authority;
  • Enhance flow, readability, and clarity.

The new, streamlined shellfish regulations can be found on DEM’s Marine Fisheries website here!

Public Input Sought on New State Plan to Improve Shellfish Resources

Public Input Sought on New State Plan to Improve Shellfish Resources

Plan topics include research, shellfish restoration, and industry supported activities

The public is invited to review a draft of Rhode Island’s first comprehensive set of management recommendations for shellfish resources, both wild harvest and aquaculture, located in state ocean waters, and provide comments. The review process is a key topic of the SMP Stakeholder Public Meeting scheduled for tonight, Monday, September 29, 5-7pm, Corless Auditorium, URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Narragansett, RI. Other topics include SMP progress and actions over the last year, chapter overviews, future steps, and summer highlights from industry leaders and state agencies. Find the preliminary version of the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan (SMP) and comment form at

Comments will be accepted through November 1. “We encourage anyone who cares about the future of all things shellfish in Rhode Island – from the shellfish resources themselves to the industries that depend on them to the recommendations for how we can work together to improve shellfishing – to come out for this meeting,” said Azure Cygler, project manager for the SMP, of the URI (Graduate School of Oceanography) Coastal Resources Center (CRC), who also represents the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program.

The SMP process began in 2013 to provide comprehensive policy guidance regarding management and protection measures for shellfish, such as quahogs and oysters, located in state marine waters, with the full plan expected to be completed this fall. Throughout the process, stakeholders – including representatives of the wild harvest, aquaculture and restoration communities — have been closely involved in identifying policies and practices to restore shellfish resources and enhance the economic vitality of the shellfishing industry. The plan will be updated as new research and information becomes available. A special celebration to honor the creation of the plan is being developed. For more information on the SMP, contact Cygler at (401) 874-6197 or

The SMP contains recommendations which have been crafted by technical teams and facilitated by CRC and the Rhode Island Sea Grant College Program for use by two key state agencies: the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM). Key partners are URI College of Environmental Sciences (URI-CELS), Roger Williams University and the URI Coastal Institute. Funders are the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, and the Sharpe Family Foundation/Henry and Peggy Sharpe. Input throughout has been provided generously by leaders in the industry, including the Rhode Island Shellfishermen’s Association and the Ocean State Aquaculture Association.

Rhode Island Shellfish Signs

Shared on behalf of the RI Shellfish Management Plan Team.

Rhode Island Shellfish Signs

Through the SMP process, some have raised concerns over the status of shellfish signs in the state, specifically those signs which delineate open and closed waters based on water quality conditions. There are two issues regarding signs: 1) The presence/absence and condition of existing signs in designated locations, and 2) The possibility of collecting GPS coordinates for sign locations as an additional descriptor for resource users. A team at DEM has been working in the field since the spring to address these concerns.

1) Condition of signs – The DEM Office of Water Resources (OWR), in coordination with DEM Enforcement and to some degree DEM Fish and Wildlife, has the task of assessing and maintaining shellfish signs indicating water quality closures. These represent the majority of shellfish signs that stakeholders encounter, with another small percentage indicating Shellfish Management Areas (these are maintained by Fish and Wildlife). Each year, OWR, with help from field reports by Enforcement personnel, assess the condition (present, absent, damaged) of some 60+ signs in the state. Depending on staff time, weather conditions, and accessibility, OWR staff will conduct field maintenance on damaged/missing signs in the spring/summer of every year. In 2013, an assessment report of signs showed various signs needing to be replaced or repaired – OWR has been in the field since spring, using their existing stockpile to replace/repair these signs. While much progress has been made this year and field work continues, it is important to note that sign maintenance is an on-going, yearly process, as sign vandalism, stealing, obscuring from overgrown vegetation, etc. is common, and often signs go missing soon after they are replaced. Many signs are not accessible by land, requiring access by vessel only. As of July 2014, all range markers accessible by land have been visited and repaired/replaced as needed, and GPS coordinates were taken for each location. With continued collaboration and reliance on DEM Enforcement in the field, OWR aims to have all signs replaced this year. For those who wish to see the DEM Sign Assessment report, please contact Cindy Hannus at DEM (

2) GPS Coordinates for Signs – Several stakeholders in the SMP process over the last year have suggested that DEM collect and advertise GPS coordinates for shellfish signs, along-side the currently used landmark descriptions for their locations. While most commercial shellfishermen have and use GPS units, there remains a legal issue in using coordinates for locations for regulatory purposes that are not collected by a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS). Using a professional service like this is very costly and laborious, but can help ensure accuracy. Through numerous discussions between DEM departments, it was decided in April of this year that GPS coordinates would be collected using professional equipment (i.e. high location accuracy) by DEM’s GIS and mapping expert over the summer months. Currently, about 33 percent of the sign locations have been assessed and GPS coordinates taken; the remaining sites (those accessible only by boat) are being visited over the next two months through coordination with F&W and others. The GPS coordinates will be included in 2015 regulations as a compliment and not in replacement of the current landmark descriptions.

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