Barnstable Harbor Commercial Shellfishing

1-Regulatory Agencies | 2-Issues of Concern | 3-Potential Solutions | 4-Resources


Commencing in 1996 and with more than 100 acres of grants, commercial shellfishing has become a significant business enterprise on Barnstable Harbor.  The aquaculture grants are popular with environmentalists as oysters, in particular, serve as remarkable water filtration systems.  Nevertheless, commercial shellfishing does have some perceived negative impacts on the harbor.

This page contains information and links to the federal, state & local agencies that manage the permitting and regulations for the aquaculture grants in Barnstable Harbor.

Listed are some specific issues & concerns, as well as some potential solutions for mitigating the negative impacts associated with with commercial shellfishing industry in Barnstable Harbor.

Finally, you will find resources for more information on aquaculture farming and best management practices.


1-Regulatory Agencies


US Army Corps of Engineers | Regulatory Program

  • In charge of “land” as it pertains to issues of navigation
  • Granted Barnstable Harbor Aquaculture Grants Permit in 1996
  • Determined grant area to be barren of natural or wild shellfish
  • Permit on file at Harbormaster’s Natural Resource office



Mass Gov | Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs | Department of Agricultural Resources | Aquaculture

  • Issues licenses to Grant holders only
  • Harvesting, planting & seeds (due to under-sized factor)
  • Marketing: wholesale & retail

Mass Gov | Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs | Chapter 91 Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act



Town of Barnstable | Natural Resources Division

  • Shellfish Warden: Doug Kalweit
  • Staff Biologist: Tom Marcotti


  • Recommends Individual Grants
  • Recommendations are confirmed by Town Manager


  • Grants are issued to a waitlist
  • Enforces Regulations
  • Currently 102 / 2 acre grants in Barnstable Harbor -Pending 14 more 2 acre grants
  • Grants must <3’ @ mean low water


  • Managing and performing shellfish propagation projects for select species of economically and recreationally important shellfish
  • Assisting the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries with constant water quality monitoring of local classified areas and instituting management protocols for the areas. Water quality testing and shellfishery management by the state are mandated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program for areas used for the public consumption of shellfish. Assessing coastal zone projects and performing surveys and reports for such projects. Performing shellfish surveys for resource management purposes
  • Formulating, integrating, disseminating and maintaining shellfishery management information for the general public
  • Interacting with federal, state and local authorities, agencies and groups regarding shellfish management, regulatory, enforcement, educational and private shellfish aquaculture issues
  • Report, grant and contract writing as well as comprehensive review studies including GIS/GPS mapping

Town of Barnstable | Shellfishing Committee:

This nine member committee meets monthly at 1189 Phinney’s Lane, Centerville.  Available on its website are links to Agendas for upcoming meetings and the minutes of past meetings.


2-Issues of Concern

  • Scudder Lane:  Balance of commercial and recreational use of landing and beach
  • Enforcement: Determine which regulations are and are not being properly enforced
  • Impact of trucks & boats (gas, oil, brake fluid, anti-freeze leaks) parked on beach at low tide
  • Water Quality:  Benefits vs. Detriments:  Nitrogen, Amonia, Chlorophyll
  • Aquaculture Debris:  Rebar, Nets & other non-natural debris
  • What percentage of the harbor is eligible/feasible/healthy for aquaculture?
  • What areas of the harbor are eligible/feasible/healthy for aquaculture?
  • National Heritage Species:  Diamond Back Terrapin



Aquaculture Debris: Rebar

3-Possible Solutions

  • Encourage & Attract Commercial Shellfishermen to utilize Boat Basin Ramps & Facilities
    • Provide Designated Loading/Unloading Dock & Parking for Commercial Shellfishermen
    • Re-situate yellow hoist at bulkhead to be perpendicular to bulkhead
  • Reduce Commercial use of landing at Scudder Lane by utilizing above
  • Water Quality Monitoring:
    • Existing
    • Perform tests to understand long term & larger impact of shellfishery on water quality
  • Aquaculture Debris:



  • East Coast Shellfish Growers Association:  Information and Resources for aquaculture.  ECSGA has published the Best Management Practices Manual  for commercial shellfisheries which is available by visiting their website.  They also have a University of Rhode Island List Serve that you may sign up.  This is a great resource for policy makers and others interested in commercial shellfish.
  • Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers:  More information including an Environmental Policy.