Shellfishing is easy, fun, and tasty adventure for children and familiesShellfishing (or clamming or clam digging) or for clams, oysters, and mussels, is a traditional coastal activity. In Massachusetts, recreational shellfishing is regulated by the towns. Contact a clerk to learn where and when buy a permit and to learn the local shellfishing regulations. Be aware of shellfishing beds that may be closed due to pollution. Know the local rules on catch limits, size limits, and allowable tools to use. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries (617-626-1520) posts information on measuring shellfish and size limits, but the towns regulate the sport.
Town Hall, 51 Spring Street Vineyard Haven, MA Phone: 508-696-4200
Fees: Non-resident permit fees are $25 for a week; $75 for a month; and $400 for a year.
Limitations: Quahogs may be caught year-round; scallop season of November 1 to the end of March. The landing places are Tashmoo Pond at the foot of Lake Street, Vineyard Haven Harbor at the Town Pier, and Lagoon Pond at the ramp. Regulations and maps and seasonal limits are distributed when a permit is purchased.
Sticker Office at the Department of Public Works, 555 Old Orchard Road Eastham, MA Phone: 508-240-5972
Permits: A class 1 recreational shellfishing permit is for residents of Eastham or Orleans and people who own real estate within Eastham. A class 2 permit is for residents of Eastham or Orleans over age 64. A class 4 permit is for people who do not own or rent lodging in Eastham or Orleans. A class 6 permit is for a period of a week, regardless of the person’s place of residence. Recreational permits are effective June 1 to May 31.
Fees: Class 1 (taxpayer), $25; Class 2 (senior taxpayer over age 65), $12; Class 4 (non-resident), $75; Class 6 (for one week) $20.
Locations: Most of the Town’s shellfishing areas are open seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset. The exceptions are Salt Pond (open on Sundays only )and several tidal creeks: Rock Harbor Creek, Boat Meadow Creek, Bee’s River (First Encounter Marsh), Hatches Creek, Abelino’s Creek.
Mail-in form for permits.
Town Hall and Department of Natural Resources, 40 Center Street Fairhaven, MA Phone: 508-984-4529
Fees: Resident, $30; non-resident, $135.
Fishing Locations: Shellfishing areas on maps attached to the town shellfish regulations are open only when a yellow flag is displayed at two locations. The first location is Baxter Avenue off Sconticut Neck Road, and it governs the west side of the Sconticut Neck. The second is displayed at Knollmere Beach at the end of Weeden Road. When flags are displayed as red (or no flag at all) all shellfishing is prohibited in the areas as shown on the map.
Harbormaster Office, 48 Marion Road Wareham, MA Phone: 508-291-3100
Permits: Resident Permit for Wareham residents is $30; senior residents, $15; non-resident (must be a resident of Massachusetts), $120; 2-week permit June 1 to September 15, $30; one-week permit for June 1 to September 15, $15.
Mattapoisett Town Hall, 16 Main Street Mattapoisett, MA Phone: 508-758-4100
Fees: Annual fee is $25 for residents and $125 for non-residents.
Catch: Quahogs, soft shell clams, oysters, scallops (scallops season is winter). For more information, contact shellfish officer Kathy Massey at 508-758-4120 ext. 202
Falmouth Town Hall, 59 Town Hall Square Falmouth, MA Phone: 508-457-2536
Fees: Permits cost $80 for non-residents (cash or money order only); $25 for residents; and $5 for senior residents. Permits are in effect from February 1 to January 31, General regulations may be picked up at the tax collector's window in Falmouth Town Hall.
Information on shellfishing locations; See approved shellfishing locations and phone 508-495-7334 for information on closures.
Mashpee Town Hall, 16 Great Neck Road North Mashpee, MA Phone: 508-539-1439
Fees Family, $25; seniors, $6; non-resident, $80
Hours: Non-commercial shellfishing is allowed every day between sunrise and sunset.
Shellfishing Locations: Shellfishing is allowed up to the high tide shoreline, except in areas closed because of contamination or otherwise restricted by the Mashpee Shellfish Regulations. Areas reserved for non-commercial (family) shellfishing are in Waquoit Bay, Great River, Hamblin Pond and Popponesset Bay. Refer to the shellfishing maps for closed or restricted areas.
Harvest of quahogs, soft-shell clams, scallops (in season), mussels and razor clams is allowed as specified in the regulations. The taking of oysters is prohibited until further notice. Catch limits are established for each harvestable species and can be found in the regulations. Shellfishing maps
Shellfish Department, 135 Meetinghouse Way Edgartown, MA, 02539 Phone: 508-627-7570
Fees: Annual cost for residents is $50, fee to residents age 60 and older. Non-resident annual licenses are $250. A weekly license is available for $50. This entitles the purchaser and their family to go out once in a week window and get a limit of shellfish. This license does not apply to scallops. An annual license is required to fish for scallops during the season.
Catch Limits: A family permit holder shall not take more than one-half bushel of shellfish during a week except for bay scallops. The Bay Scallop limit shall be no more than one (1) struck level 10 gallon plastic wash basket per week in season. Bay scalloping is not permitted for one-day license holders.
Nantucket Marine & Coastal Resource Department, 34 Washington Street (Town Pier) Nantucket, MA Phone: 508-228-7261
Purchase licenses at the police department, 4 Fairgrounds Road, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer.
Fees: Seasonal fees are resident, $35; resident over age 60, free; non-resident (all ages), $125. Weekly fee is $50.
Rules: License holders will be given information on shellfishing, closures, tide chart and any other information they may need. The species most commonly sought are quahogs, mussels, eels, oysters, scallops, and soft shell clams (steamers).
Gloucester City Clerk, City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue Gloucester, MA Phone: 978-281-9720
Fees: Annual non-resident fee for clams and seaworms is $200. One-day fee for clams and seaworms is $25. All permits expire June 30 of each year.
Contact Information: The Shellfish Department hotline is 978-281- 9741. Shellfish constable is Dave Sargent. Email: http://gloucester-ma.gov/forms.aspx?FID=41
6 Plum Island Turnpike Newburyport, MA, 01950 Phone: 978-465-5753
Fees: Refuge shellfishing permits are issued free of charge, but there is a daily entrance fee of $5 per vehicle at the Plum Island area. Annual entrance passes are available
Hours: Shellfishing is allowed sunrise to sunset. The Plum Island portion of the refuge is closed when the parking lot is full. Access to refuge shellfishing areas may be prohibited due to factors like public health concerns. This information is available by calling 978-356-6671.
Parking: Access from the refuge to all flats is from designated parking areas and by foot only. Parking for shellfishing is permitted in designated lots only and is on a first come-first served basis. These lots are at refuge subheadquarters and maintenance area in Newbury, Nelson Island and Hellcat/lot 4 in Rowley, lot 6 and three reserved clamming lots in Ipswich. All vehicles must display a valid refuge decal (issued with the refuge permit).
Town of Ipswich, 25 Green Street Ipswich, MA, 01938 Phone: 978-356-6600
Scituate Town Clerk, Town Hall, 600 Chief Justice Cushing Way Scituate, MA, 02066 Phone: 781-545-8744
Fees: Season fee for non-residents is $50. All recreational shellfish permits shall expire one year from the date of issue. Buy permits at Town Hall. See clamming flats maps for North River and South River.
Duxbury Town Hall, 878 Tremont Street Duxbury, MA, 02332 Phone: 781-934-1100
Fees: Annual fee for non-residents is $120. The year runs from April 1 to March 31.
Rules: Shellfish may be taken from sunrise to sunset. Taking shellfish, eels or seaworms is prohibited on Sundays from June 1 to September 1. All shellfish must be dug with conventional tined tools. No shovels are permitted and digging must be by hand.
Barnstable Division of Natural Resources, 1189 Phinney’s Lane Centerville, MA, 02632 Phone: 508-790-6272
The Town of Barnstable includes eight villages; these town regulations apply within these villages: Osterville, Centerville, Marstons Mills, Cotuit, Hyannis, West Hyannisport, Barnstable Village, and West Barnstable
Fees: Resident Family, $30; senior citizen Family, $20; annual non-resident family, $120; seasonal non-resident family, $60
Wellfleet Town Hall, 300 Main Street Wellfleet, MA, 02667 Phone: 508-349-0300
Fees: Annual fees are resident, $50; senior resident, $10; non-resident, $200. Seasonal fees are resident, $30; non-resident, $75. To purchase a permit by mail write to Wellfleet Town Hall, attn. Shellfish Permits, 300 Main Street, Wellfleet. Send check or money order and a self addressed stamped envelope.
Fishing Locations: In Wellfleet, Indian Neck is the only area open to recreational shellfishing from June 1 to September 30. Recreational shellfishing is allowed only on Wednesdays and Sundays. The Indian Neck area extends from the breakwater to the jetty just south of the Burton Baker Landing. Indian Neck has much to offer for any level of experience in shellfishing. The area is regularly stocked with quahogs and it supports small populations of soft shell clams and oysters.