2017-03-23 / News

Contamination ebbs, but clam ban persists

The shellfish closure that went into effect at the beginning of March continues to hamper fishermen in Narragansett Bay.

According to Gail Mastrati, spokeswoman at the state Department of Environmental Management, scientists currently are testing shellfish and water samples south of the bridges. Although the concentration of phytoplankton is declining, she said, there still is concern with the amount of bacteria in mussels.

The ban went into effect March 1 after four of five sites from locations off Jamestown, Newport and Little Compton tested positive for domoic acid. The toxin is caused by a phytoplankton, a harmful algae that causes a neurological disorder known as amnesic shellfish poisoning.

Although the waters surrounding Jamestown are not prime harvesting sites for quahogs, the state continues to test the clam “out of an abundance of caution.” According to Mastrati, there is little evidence of the acid in quahogs.

Impacted areas include water south of the Jamestown and Newport bridges. Also closed is the mouth of the Sakonnet River, as well as the area south of Point Judith stretching east to Gooseberry Neck.

Carnivorous snails still can be farmed in the prohibited area.

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