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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FAQs – General
 
  • Where are the shellfish resources located?
    The major softshell clam beds are located in Hampton Harbor, with scattered beds in the Great Bay Estuary. Surf clams and mahogany quahogs are found along the Atlantic Coast. The major oyster beds, as well as scattered populations of razor clams, are found in Great Bay. Blue mussel resources can be found in Hampton Harbor and in rocky areas along the coast. For more detailed information, contact the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
    • NHF&G Headquarters
      2 Hazen Drive
      Concord NH 03301-6500
      (603) 271-3421
    • NHF&G Region 3
      Division of Marine Fisheries
      225 Main Street
      Durham NH 03824
      (603)-868-1095
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  • How do I find out what beds are open?
    Open and Conditionally Open areas are depicted in maps, and in the annual F&G Saltwater Digest (available where clam or oyster licenses are sold). Some areas are only open when specific weather conditions are met – call the Clam Hotline at 1-800-43-CLAMS for regular updates (weekly updates are normally posted by 3 p.m. on Thursdays). Additional information can be accessed through the NH Fish and Game Department Web site.
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  • Why is the Clam Hotline updated on Fridays each week and not earlier?
    Week-to-week decisions on the open/closed status of areas such as the Hampton/Seabrook Estuary are largely driven by weather conditions. In rainy seasons such as spring and fall, weather forecasts often change from day to day, and whenever possible, DES strives to make decisions based on actual weather conditions, rather than forecasts. Thus, it is necessary to delay announcing open/closed decisions until the latter part of the week.
    Another reason that updates are made later in the week is related to sampling activities. Rather than always relying on automatic closures of the harbor when rainfall exceeds certain levels, DES collects water and shellfish tissue samples following some rainfall events for the express purpose of making weekly open/closed decisions – if samples show low bacteria levels, the harbor is opened for harvesting. Laboratory test results on water samples collected on Mondays or Tuesdays are often not available until Wednesday or Thursday; thus, the announcement of the open/closed status for a particular week is sometimes delayed until later in the week.
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  • Do I need a license to harvest shellfish?
    Recreational harvest of softshell clams and/or oysters, both require a NH Fish and Game license. Recreational mussel, surf clam, razor clam, and mahogany quahog harvesting do not require a license.
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  • How can I access the open shellfish beds?
    In Great Bay, shellfish beds at Adams Point are accessible by foot, while the resources around Nannie Island are accessible by boat. Hampton/Seabrook Harbor shellfish beds are accessible by both foot and boat. Little Harbor shellfish beds are accessible by boat and, in some locations, by foot. Motor vehicles are prohibited on any tidal area, exposed at low tide, which is capable of growing clams. The coastal access map Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbolis available online. Public access points are also illustrated in the Fish and Game Saltwater Digest.
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  • What agencies are involved in classifying and managing the shellfish beds?
    The Department of Environmental Services is responsible for identifying pollution sources that adversely affect the quality of state waters. DES conducts sanitary surveys throughout the coastal region to evaluate and classify waters as safe or unsafe for human consumption of shellfish. DES has the authority to classify shellfish growing areas and to forbid the harvest of shellfish from unapproved areas.
    The Fish and Game Department is responsible for enforcing the "open/closed" status of shellfish growing waters. Fish and Game also controls harvesting through license sales and other means, evaluates and manages the health of the shellfish resources, and issues permits for shellfish aquaculture projects, or other commercial harvesting operations.
    The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for the laboratory analysis of water samples and shellfish tissues. DHHS also certifies commercial shellfish operations such as dealers, shucker/packers, and aquaculture ventures.
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  • Does New Hampshire Fish and Game seed the shellfish beds?
    The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department does not currently seed the clam flats or oyster beds.
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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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