Shellfish license updates from DEM and Harbors

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 12:15pm

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced the availability of a new license for state residents:

“To help foster the continued viability of the Rhode Island commercial seafood industry during the COVID-19 public health crisis, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has enacted a new, no-cost Direct Sale Dealer License. It authorizes commercial fishermen in Rhode Island to sell certain species of finfish, and to sell and transport for sale live lobsters and crabs, directly to consumers and licensed seafood retailers from the vessel on which they were harvested.”

D.E.M. Director Janet Coit said, in the statement, “There is a growing demand for local seafood during this critical time, and we’re fortunate that our commercial harvesters are able to meet the needs of residents with the abundant seafood resources available off our coast… Rhode Islanders can take pride in knowing that when they purchase fresh local seafood, at local retailers or right off the boat from harvesters, they are helping to keep a vital part of our economy – our commercial fishing and seafood industry – up and running.”

The new license, enacted through an emergency regulation, is available to resident commercial fishermen in the state, who are licensed to harvest finfish and crustaceans, free of costs.

To apply for the new license, and learn the regulations for the license, visit

Town shellfish license updates

Harbormaster Kate McConville reported on the process for shellfish license sales at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, April 29.

“We have a system where you bring your old license from the year prior, and we hole punch it. Everyone this year is going to need new licenses, because the last year on the card was 2020. Golden and resident shellfish licenses expire on May 15. I just completed the updates with the IT people, and next week I will set up office hours where people can call in. As long as they are in the system, they can pay over the phone, and I will send their license and updated regulations,” said McConville.

McConville noted she “would like to move the office mid June to our seasonal office at the Boat Basin to keep people away from Town Hall… [and] per the state and town regulation, inner ponds will be closed to shellfish May 23 to October 15.”

To learn more on obtaining and updating your shellfish license, contact Harbors at (401) 466-3204 or

‘Warmer weather means more boats’

Second Warden André Boudreau asked during the April 29 Town Council meeting if there were any boats in the harbor.

“I had an incident with a family yesterday, who were not happy about the emergency town ordinance. Police were involved… I have one individual who is quarantining out on his boat… there are a few boats at [Block Island Maritime Institute] who are flying their quarantine flag… everyone else is following the rules,” said McConville.

“When the weather gets nicer, we are going to see more boats, and Kate is going to need assistance from any entity,” said councilor Chris Willi, who also suggested calling in officers from the Department of Environmental Management or the State Police for assistance. “I was shocked to see how many boats have showed up,” he said. “It’s that time of year.”

The R.I. D.E.M. issued a recent following of rules for boaters, to continue practicing social distancing protocols and safety precautions:

• Stay close to home. Travel to and from the access site without making other stops.

• Boat only with people in your immediate household.

• Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times and keep your distance on the water by not tying up to other boats or beaching your boat near other boaters.

• Fuel up and plan ahead by packing hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves. When fueling, wash your hands as you would when fueling a car. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

• When launching and loading your boat, give people ahead of you plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before you approach.

• Do not enter the marina office unless you have an appointment.

• While on the water, find a secluded spot away from others to relax.

• Call ahead to your destination to make sure it is open and accepting visitors.

• When returning, be prepared to dock or trailer with your own crew and avoid assistance.

• Keep distance at dock. Dispose of trash according to marina rules and guidelines.

• If you are sick or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

To learn more on boating laws and regulations, visit or contact the Division of Law Enforcement at 401-222-2284.