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Shellfishing is easy, fun, and tasty adventure for children and families

Shellfishing (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.

Shellfishing and Clamming in Massachusetts-credit-shutterstock
Wareham Shellfishing & Clamming

Harbormaster Office, 48 Marion Road Wareham, MA Phone: 508-291-3100

Recreational shellfish permits are issued for the period of January 1 through December 31. Permit is issued for the holder and his or her immediate family under age 18. Shellfish, eels and seaworms harvested with a recreational permit may not be sold. Purchase permits at the Harbormaster office at 48 Marion Road, Wareham (508-291-3100 ext. 3186).
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.
Tisbury / Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard

Town Hall, 51 Spring Street Vineyard Haven, MA Phone: 508-696-4200

Permits for non-resident recreational shellfishing are sold at Town Hall, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
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.
Fairhaven Shellfishing & Clamming

Town Hall and Department of Natural Resources, 40 Center Street Fairhaven, MA Phone: 508-984-4529

You can shellfish in authorized areas with a license issued by the town. Fairhaven has resident, and non-resident licenses available. Shellfish licenses are issued by the Selectmens office in Town Hall, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Permits are active from April 1 to March 31. Contact the Shellfish Warden at 508-984-4529 for more details.
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.
Eastham Shellfishing & Clamming

Sticker Office at the Department of Public Works, 555 Old Orchard Road Eastham, MA Phone: 508-240-5972

A permit is required for taking eels, sea worms or shellfish from the coastal waters of Eastham. Shellfish Permits are issued at the Sticker Office, Memorial Day to mid-August. Call 508-240-5976.
Permits: Issued to residents and property owners of Eastham or Orleans ($25); residents of Eastham or Orleans over age 64 $12); non-residents of the towns ($75); a one-week license, regardless of residence, ($20). Permits are effective June 1 to May 31. Locations: Most of the Town’s shellfishing areas are open daily from sunrise to sunset, except for Salt Pond (Sundays only) and several tidal creeks.
Wellfleet Shellfishing & Clamming

Wellfleet Town Hall, 300 Main Street Wellfleet, MA, 02667 Phone: 508-349-0300

Recreational shellfishing is permitted with a license, required for fishers age 12 and older. Purchase at the Beach Sticker Office or the Administration Office in Town Hall. The shellfishing season is June 1-Sept 30.
Fees: Annual: resident, $50; senior resident, $10; non-resident, $200. Seasonal: resident, $30; non-resident, $75.
Fishing Locations: 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 is regularly stocked with quahogs and small populations of soft shell clams and oysters.
Nantucket Shellfishing & Clamming

Nantucket Marine & Coastal Resource Department, 34 Washington Street (Town Pier) Nantucket, MA Phone: 508-228-7261

Town-issued recreational shellfish licenses are required and issued April 1 through March 31. Anyone over the age of 14 must have a license to take shellfish. Fishers under age 14 must be with a licensed adult.
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).
Falmouth Shellfishing & Clamming

Falmouth Town Hall, 59 Town Hall Square Falmouth, MA Phone: 508-457-2536

Shellfish and herring permits are sold at the tax collector's window in Falmouth Town Hall, 59 Town Hall Square, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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.
Gloucester Shellfishing & Clamming

Gloucester City Clerk, City Hall, 9 Dale Avenue Gloucester, MA Phone: 978-281-9720

All shellfishing permits are issued by the City Clerk's office at City Hall. Call or click for hours.
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
Scituate Shellfishing & Clamming

Scituate Town Clerk, Town Hall, 600 Chief Justice Cushing Way Scituate, MA, 02066 Phone: 781-545-8744

There is no summertime clamming in Scituate. Beds are usually open in late fall and through winter. Shellfishing season ends June 1. Taking shellfish is permitted only on Thursdays and Sundays, except in December, January and February, when shellfishing is allowed daily. Permits are required for any person 16 years of age or older.
Fees: See clamming flats maps for North River and South River.
Mashpee Shellfishing & Clamming

Mashpee Town Hall, 16 Great Neck Road North Mashpee, MA Phone: 508-539-1439

To shellfish in Mashpee you must have a Mashpee shellfish permit or Wampanoag Tribal ID card. You may buy a permit if you own land in Mashpee or live in Massachusetts. Permits are issued at the Town Clerk's office.
Fees Family, $25; seniors, $6; non-resident, $80
Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset.
Shellfishing Locations: Shellfishing is allowed up to the high tide shoreline, except in areas closed because of contamination. Areas for non-commercial shellfishing are in Waquoit Bay, Great River, Hamblin Pond and Popponesset Bay. Refer to the shellfishing maps.
Harvest of quahogs, soft-shell clams, scallops (in season), mussels and razor clams is allowed. The taking of oysters is prohibited . Catch limits are established for each species and can be found in the regulations. Shellfishing maps
Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

6 Plum Island Turnpike Newburyport, MA, 01950 Phone: 978-465-5753

Fishers must have a valid Refuge Use Permit for shellfishing on clam flats that can be reached from the refuge. To qualify for a refuge permit, you must have a commercial or recreational clamming license from the towns of Newbury, Rowley, or Ipswich. Refuge permits are available year-round from refuge headquarters and from the refuge gatehouse on Sunset Drive. Permits are valid through the end of the calendar year.
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.
Hours:Shellfishing is allowed sunrise to sunset.
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.
Duxbury Shellfishing & Clamming

Duxbury Town Hall, 878 Tremont Street Duxbury, MA, 02332 Phone: 781-934-1100

Shellfish licenses are required for people over age 14 to dig anywhere in Duxbury. Licenses are available at the Duxbury Town Hall, 878 Tremont Street. Hours are Monday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
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 Shellfishing & Clamming

Barnstable Division of Natural Resources, 1189 Phinney’s Lane Centerville, MA, 02632 Phone: 508-790-6272

Shellfishing licenses may be purchased at the Marine and Environmental Affairs Office, 1189 Phinney’s lane, Barnstable, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Licenses may also be obtained by mail (to the address above) with proof of residency and payment in full. Please include a self addressed stamped envelope. Seasonal licenses are in effect June 1through September 1.
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
Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard

Shellfish Department, 135 Meetinghouse Way Edgartown, MA, 02539 Phone: 508-627-7570

Shellfish Licenses are available in the Board of Selectmen’s Office during regular business hours. During the summer months they are sold at the front desk of Town Hall, 70 Main Street. Call ahead for hours to buy licenses at 508- 627-6100. Annual Shellfish licenses run from April 1 to March 31.
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.
Ipswich Shellfishing & Clamming

Town of Ipswich, 25 Green Street Ipswich, MA, 01938 Phone: 978-356-6600

Ispwich residents may purchase a shellfishing permit for $30 a calendar year. Massachusetts residents who do not live in Ipswich may purchase a permit for $150 a calendar year or $20 a day. Out-of-state residents may purchase a one-day permit for $20 if they name in the permit application the name and permit number of an Ipswich licensed clammer who will accompany them and if they are accompanied by the sponsoring clammer on the day specified on the permit. 
Mattapoisett Shellfishing & Clamming

Mattapoisett Town Hall, 16 Main Street Mattapoisett, MA Phone: 508-758-4100

Permits are required for recreational shellfishing. Permits may be purchased online or from the town treasurer’s office at Town Hall, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Permits are in force from January to January.
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