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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

CRMC, OSAA to host Vibrio workshop

January 31, 2020, Narragansett — The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) will be holding a mandatory workshop on compliance with the state’s regulations for temperature control of harvested shellfish, for all aquaculturists.

All current leaseholders must attend the workshop on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. The course must be taken every three years, and the CRMC has determined that there is a need for further education for members of the industry regarding requirements because there have been issues with Vibrio.

The workshop will be at 4 p.m. at the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute large conference room, and CRMC Aquaculture Coordinator David Beutel, and Robert Rheault, executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, will conduct the session. This workshop was co-sponsored by the CRMC and Ocean State Aquaculture Association.

In Rhode Island, aquaculturists should be concerned about two Vibrios, vibrio vulnifius, and vibrio parahaemolyticus, Rheault said at the 2016 workshop. The first is rare, he said, and only serious for those who are immune-compromised. The second, is far more common, Rheault said, and sickens hundreds of people annually. Vibrio parahaemolyticus is more common in higher salinity waters when temperatures are over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Again, the illness is more severe in immune-compromised individuals, but few mortalities are attributed to Vp alone, he said in 2016. The Rhode Island Vibrio parahaemolyticus or (Vp) Control Plan is effective July 1 through September 15, but that timeframe depends on whether there are any Vibrio outbreaks.

Under the RI Department of Environmental Management regulations, product must be harvested early, and quickly, and must be kept cool and under shade. It must be delivered to a dealer within five hours if coming from Narragansett Bay, two hours if from the “thermally impacted areas,” which are largely the salt ponds. Rheault outlined a number of effective cooling options to satisfy the DEM requirements, including an ice and sea water slurry/bath, leaving them in the water as long as possible (after harvest), maintaining proper shade on boats and vehicles (not blue tarp); and getting it to the dealer as soon as possible.

The key to avoiding sickness is temperature. The time it takes for the bacteria to double in volume (doubling time) increases in direct relation to the temperature. The doubling time is 15-40 minutes at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but growth stops below 50 degrees. People purchasing shellfish should be shopping with a cooler and ice packs if they can’t get the product immediately home. Product should be put immediately in refrigeration once it’s delivered to restaurants.

For more information on aquaculture, go to the CRMC web site – For more information on the DEM regulations, go to To download the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association Best Management Practices module, go to

A second workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 14, at 7p.m. at Roger Williams University as part of a practical shellfish farming course.

Below are the applicable CRMC and DEM regulations, as well as requirements of leaseholders:

  • Must possess a DEM aquaculture license, a CRMC assent
  • All bags, containers filled with product must have a dealer and harvester tag with all tag requirements completed
  • All aquaculturists are only allowed to possess/sell what their lease specifies – no wild and aquaculture harvest at the same time


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