Shellfish Transplant Program

Shell Fishermen 
A boatload of quahogs to be transplanted.

NBC has assisted the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and the RI Shellfishermen's Association in their joint annual shellfish transplants in Narragansett Bay for over a decade. This effort is intended to relocate quahogs from polluted areas to cleaner waters in various management areas around the state of Rhode Island. To date, over 5 million pounds of quahogs have been transplanted into clean waters.

Clean water is essential to the shellfishing industry, a multi-million dollar industry in Rhode Island. Historically, the two most northern shellfishing areas in the Bay, Areas A and B, were closed after rainfall (0.5 inches and 1.0 inch within a 24 hours, respectively). Due to the success of the CSO Tunnel, the closure regulations increased to higher rainfall amounts (≥0.8 inches and ≥1.5 inches of rain, respectively). The CSO tunnel was highlighted as the reason for the historic changes; “the changes are a result of water quality improvements associated with the completion of Phase I of the three-phase Narragansett Bay Commission combined sewer overflow program in 2008”(RIDEM Press Release, May 26th, 2011). On average, Area A is expected to be open 65 more days/year and Area B is projected to be open 45 more days/year to shellfishing.