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Shellfishing

a pile of hard clams
Hard clams are harvested by recreational
and commercial shellfish harvesters

New York State has a wide variety of shellfish available for harvest, including hard clams or quahogs, blue mussels, razor clams, soft clams, oysters and bay scallops.

Shellfish Harvest Areas

Shellfish may only be taken from areas that are certified by DEC for shellfish harvest. A list of shellfish closures is available below under regulatory and temporary closures.

DEC Public Shellfish Mapper

Try the new and easy-to-use DEC Public Shellfish Mapper to find areas that are open to shellfishing. This interactive map shows shellfish closures, conditional harvesting programs, shellfish harvest zones, aquaculture lease sites and water sampling stations.

Shellfish Harvest Limits

Check the recreational and commercial harvesting limits for shellfish species you wish to take. Review additional requirements for commercial or recreational harvesting below:

Commercial Shellfishing

Commercial shellfish diggers are required to hold DEC permits to conduct harvesting activities. Shellfish shippers and shellfish processors are also required to hold permits based on the type of shellfish handling carried out at their facilities.

Recreational Shellfishing

If you want to catch your own shellfish to eat, be sure to review the list below before heading to the water:

shellfish harvester using a clam rake
Shellfish harvester using a clam rake.
  1. Recreational shellfish diggers are not required to hold a permit from DEC but are subject to the daily harvesting limits for shellfish.
  2. Check with the local town which you are harvesting from to acquire a recreational shellfishing permit.
  3. Make sure the area where you want to go clamming is open to shellfish harvesting. A list of shellfish closures is available below under regulatory and temporary closures.

Types of Shellfish Closures

DEC manages the shellfish harvest area closures through regulatory closures and temporary closures.

  • Regulatory closures are based on the annual water quality analysis of a specific area. Changes in the regulatory classifications are determined by year-round water quality monitoring to ensure that harvest areas meet the stringent requirements for the safe harvest of shellfish for food consumption.
  • Temporary closures can occur when an area that is normally open experiences sudden, short-term degradations in water quality. This could be the result of excessive amounts of storm water runoff or the presence of harmful algal blooms or biotoxins in the water or shellfish.
    • Once the event that caused the poor water quality has ended and water quality has improved, the area may be reopened to harvest.
    • Temporary shellfish closures are also implemented as a precautionary measure when predictable conditions pose a threat to water quality.
    • These closures usually occur during high use periods, such as holidays and special events, when increased numbers of mooring boats increase the possibility that recreational boaters may occasionally discharge waste overboard.

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