DOAG: Recreational Shellfishing

Recreational Shellfishing


Connecticut Sea Grant Extension has produced a guide for the public for recreational shellfishing along Connecticut's coast: 2008 Guide to Shellfishing Along the Coast of Connecticut (413 KB. pdf)

Harvesting is limited to "Approved" and "Conditionally Approved-Open" areas, excluding franchised or leased shellfish beds. Recreational harvesters should contact the local health department serving the town in which they wish to harvest to determine the current description of Approved or Conditionally Approved shellfishing areas, local laws that pertain to this activity and whether a local license is required. Recreational shellfishing in closed areas (Conditionally Approved-Closed, Restricted, and Prohibited areas) whether for bait or personal consumption is illegal. Individuals involved in such illegal activities are subject to fines and imprisonment, as well as putting their health in jeopardy.

Recreational shellfishing in Connecticut is limited to one-half (1/2) bushel of shellfish - oysters, clams or mussels per day taken during daylight hours. Implements to take shellfish, such as rakes or tongs, must have openings or spacing between the teeth or prongs of one (1") inch or greater. Hard shell clams less than one (1") inch in thickness or that will pass through a ring of one and one-half (1.5") inches internal diameter must be returned to the harvest area. Softshell clams (referred to as steamers or long clams) must be returned to the harvest area if less than one and one half (1.5") inches in length. Oysters less than three (3.0") inches in length must be returned to the harvest area.

Recreational shellfish are intended to be consumed by the harvester and family members. Recreational harvesters cannot offer their shellfish for sale or barter. Recreational harvesters must take care to properly handle their catch. Shellfish should be promptly refrigerated in a self-draining container. They should never be stored in water or hung overboard from a dock or boat since they are filter feeders and may concentrate contaminants from that new environment.

Recreational scalloping is limited to residents of one year or greater and is restricted by local laws, ordinances or regulations which may require a town scallop license. Requirements vary on a town by town basis regarding the net size. Scallops must not be able to pass through a 2.0” diameter ring. No SCUBA diving or wading is allowed, scallops must be collected from a drifting boat. Harvesting season is generally from October 1 through March 31. Scalloping is not restricted to "Approved" or "Conditionally Approved-Open" shellfishing areas if only the adductor muscle is consumed. When shucked, the shellfish and entails must be properly disposed of and not returned to the waters of the State. If whole or roe on scallops are to be consumed they may only be taken from waters classified as “Approved or Conditionally Approved-Open.”

In the interest of preventing the growth of non-indigenous species, disease and parasites, no shellfish taken from or originating from areas outside of Connecticut's Long Island Sound may be placed, planted or disposed of in Long Island Sound and its tributaries without the written approval of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Aquaculture.

{Eastern or Atlantic Oyster} Eastern or Atlantic oyster (Crassostrea virginica), also known as the "Blue Point Oyster." (Recreational size minimum 3.0")

{Hard, Round or Quahog Clam} Hard, Round, or Quahog clam (Mercenaria mercenaria). Commercial market terms by size large to small: Chowders->3", Cherrystones-2.5"-3", Necks (little and top) 1.5"-2.5". (Recreational size minimum 1.5" long or 1.0" thick)

{Long, Soft-Shelled or Steamer Clam } Long, Soft-shelled, or Steamer clams (Mya arenaria) (Recreational minimum size 1.5" long.)

{Razor or Jacknife Clam} Razor or Jackknife clam (Encis directus) (Recreational minimum size 1.5” long.)

{Drawing of a surf clam. } Surf Clam (Spisula solidissima) (Recreational minimum size 1.5” long.)

{Blue Mussel} Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) (Mytilus edulis) (The ribbed mussel has raised lines across its shell and is considered inedible. There are no size restrictions.)

{Drawing of a channeled whelk. } Whelks, Conch, Winkles or Scungilli (Busycon species) Limit of one half bushel per day for recreational harvesting. More than a half bushel requires a license from DA/BA.

{Black and white photograph of a bay scallop.}  Scallop, Bay Scallop (Argopectin irradians irradians)

Note: No fresh water areas have been classified Approved or Conditionally Approved for the taking of any species of fresh water shellfish.