Reminder: shellfishing prohibited along Merchants Way

Jul 10, 2020

As more people are seeking outdoor activities this summer, the Wareham Department of Natural Resources has reminded residents and visitors to Wareham that shellfishing along Merchants Way is prohibited due to poor water quality. 

Harbormaster Garry Buckminster said that shellfishing related offenses have increased during the pandemic, likely as a side effect of more people taking to the water in Wareham, since outdoor activities are generally safer than indoor activities regarding the spread of coronavirus. 

However, shellfishing in areas with poor water quality can also be dangerous, since eating the bad shellfish can lead to stomach aches and people becoming “violently ill.”

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has permanently closed the flats along Merchants Way due to bacteria related issues. 

Buckminster said that fish and crabs caught in the area are safe to eat if handled properly. He explained that water quality regulations are stricter for shellfishing because people tend to eat all the organs of the shellfish, rather than just muscle tissues. 

As filter feeders, shellfish are also more likely to transfer harmful bacteria to people who eat them.

Buckminster said that he loves that more people are exploring outdoor areas in Wareham, but visitors should familiarize themselves with state and town regulations before going fishing or shellfishing. 

He added that many of the people recently cited for shellfishing violations did not have permits, and were not Wareham residents.

On July 7, three people were cited for shellfishing violations along Merchants Way, and a group of six people were cited for shellfishing without a permit at the Swifts Neck Boat Ramp.

To see the town’s official shellfishing regulations, go to the Department of Natural Resources page on the Wareham Town website.