Interim reclassificatifon affects Dartmouth shellfishing

Mar 25, 2024

The Department of Fish & Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries has expanded areas closed to shellfishing surrounding the New Bedford and Fairhaven Wastewater Treatment Plant outfalls in an effort to comply with national standards and protect public health.

A number of areas are now reclassified as “prohibited” to shellfishing in the interim, effective immediately. This plan intends to take necessary measures to protect shellfish consumers while minimizing impacts to businesses and recreation.

The safety zone around the wastewater treatment outfalls have been expanded by 11,310 acres of New Bedford Harbor. Areas around Buzzards Bay have been “conditionally approved” and are open to harvest except under emergency conditions such as a sewage overflow.

The following areas have been affected in Dartmouth: Clark Cove, New Bedford East Coastal, Smith Neck South Coastal, Dartmouth East Coastal, Apponagansett Bay, Little River, Allens Pond, Dartmouth Center Coastal, Slocums River and Little Beach Coastal

Visit for a full list of affected areas with maps of which parts are prohibited and conditionally approved.

Here in Massachusetts, we pride ourselves on our nation-leading seafood industry, including culturally and economically important traditions of shellfishing in Buzzards Bay,” said Department of Fish & Game Commissioner Tom O’Shea. “While it's difficult to see any additional areas closed to shellfishing, these actions are necessary to comply with national standards and protect consumers from real public health risks.” 

Division of Marine Fisheries Director Dan McKiernan, said, “This interim reclassification plan, necessary to sustain commercial shellfishing and interstate commerce, maximizes access to shellfishing opportunities under current regulations and preserves aquaculture operations that are important to the region.” 

The division will also expand water quality minority as well as bacterial and viral testing of shellfish tissue to further understand the impact of the treatment plant’s discharges on shellfish safety. 

According to the division, these changes are not related to the overall performance of the plant nor are they in response to contamination from combined-sewer overflows during extreme rainfall.