Massachusetts Extends Shellfishing Limits to Federal Waters Due to Toxic Red Tide
BOSTON An outbreak of toxic red tide algae that has shut down most shellfishing from Maine to Massachusetts also forced state officials to close federal waters, extending the affected area by thousands of square miles.
On Friday, the state Division of Marine Fisheries ordered Massachusetts crews to stop using federal shellfishing areas and asked federal officials to extend that ban to out-of state shellfishermen. The move extends the ban for state shellfishing crews from three miles from shore to 100 miles from shore.
Toxins produced by the algae contaminate shellfish like clams and mussels, making them unsafe for people and animals to eat. But it is not a risk to people who eat lobsters, scallops and finned fish.
The red tide extends from the Schoodic Peninsula in Maine to Massachusetts' Buzzards Bay. It is the worst red tide along the New England coast since 1972.
Maine and Massachusetts have declared states of emergency, seeking federal disaster relief for the shellfishing industry. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the red tide is costing the shellfish industry about $3 million per week.
The algae that causes red tide has yearly growth surges. This year, strong easterly and northeasterly wind has blown in a particularly heavy algae population that has flourished in warmer coastal water.
Source: Associated Press