The Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will hold five public “Listening Sessions” this month to review newly proposed guidelines, solicit public comment and define the shellfish planting oversight process within the Commonwealth’s coastal waters.
“We believe that the public comments about our shellfish planting guidelines are critical to the successful development of a statewide policy that is good for public health, shellfishing and shellfish restoration efforts in the Commonwealth,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin.
Shellfish planting is conducted to enhance natural shellfish resources, maintain commercial and recreational fisheries, restore historic populations no longer present, mitigate for adversely impacted stock and commercially produce shellfish by private aquaculture. To that end, DMF is developing shellfish planting guidelines for the state, outlining principles to which shellfish planting programs in Massachusetts should adhere.
“There is increasing interest in planting shellfish to improve water quality in degraded coastal waterbodies,” said DMF Director Paul Diodati. “DMF is interested in balancing the interest in shellfish restoration with the important goals of protecting human health and local shellfish stocks, and enabling opportunities for Massachusetts commercial and recreational shellfishermen.”
The Nature Conservancy is providing public outreach for this effort with assistance from a Massachusetts Bay Program grant.
“This effort is a significant step in recognizing the diverse cultural, economic and ecological benefits of shellfish resources in the Commonwealth,” said Wayne Klockner, executive director for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.
DMF’s proposed guidelines apply to all types of shellfish planting, including shellfish propagation, enhancement, restoration, mitigation, and aquaculture in state waters. The guidelines aim to clarify and address considerations for review of shellfish planting projects to benefit project applicants, as well as local, state and federal resource and permitting agencies.
The schedule for the listening sessions is as follows:
September 8, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
DMF Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Field Station
30 Emerson Ave, Gloucester
September 13, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
UMASS – Boston Campus Center
100 Morrissey Blvd. Boston
September 15, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
Bourne High School Auditorium
75 Waterhouse Road, Bourne
September 20, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
Barnstable Town Hall
367 Main St. 2nd floor hearing Room, Hyannis
September 22, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
Wellfleet Senior Center
715 Old Kings Highway, Wellfleet
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.