Shell Fishing Time

A shellfisherman checks his rake for quahogs in Buzzards Bay.

Several amendments to the town’s shellfish regulations have been taken under consideration by the Bourne Board of Selectmen. The proposed amendments include changes to the time when shellfishing will be allowed, places where shellfishing is prohibited and reduced shellfishing fees for military veterans.

Department of Natural Resources director Christopher M. Southwood presented the proposed changes to the selectmen during the board’s meeting on Tuesday, November 5. Mr. Southwood noted three changes made by the state Division of Marine Fisheries in classification to some of the town’s shellfish growing areas.

Little Bay and Mashnee Road, which is the area inside the dike at Phinney’s Harbor, have been reclassified from Approved to Conditionally Approved, he said. Plow Penny Road, which borders Back River, has been changed from Conditionally Approved to Prohibited, he said.

“The state has been testing there constantly for years, but improvement doesn’t seem to be coming in any direction, so they now have it a prohibited area,” he said. “It is a small area, but something we don’t want to see is closed areas.”

Mr. Southwood said that he was approached by several of the commercial fishermen in Bourne about amending the regulations. He said they were “basic things that need to be updated anyway,” since many of the regulations have been in place for 35 years.

He proposed some minor changes to the applicable dates for harvesting shellfish.

Under the town’s current regulations, Daylight Savings Time is listed as March 10 through November 2. The suggested change would make it March 8 through October 31. The period of time when shellfishing is permitted would remain the same, from sunrise to 6 PM.

Current regulations list Standard Time as November 3 through March 7. The amended time would make it November 1 through March 13. Shellfishing hours, again, would stay the same, sunrise to 4:30 PM.

Mr. Southwood noted that unlike most of the other towns on the Cape, Bourne does not allow shellfishing to take place up to sunset.

The amended regulations also call for a change to the container the town requires shellfishermen to use when harvesting their catch. Regulations specify that commercial permit holders must use “Town of Bourne approved one (1) bushel plastic totes.”

“Think of it as a big milk crate,” Mr. Southwood said. “They’re old, they’re hard to get, they’re expensive.”

He said that most other towns now allow a basket that is still a bushel in measurement, but which is easier to carry, he said.

Mr. Southwood also noted that the shellfish permit fees in the amended regulations would reflect the state’s adoption of The Brave Act. Passed in August, 2018, the Brave Act provides additional support and benefits to military veterans and their families.

Under the provisions of The Brave Act, veterans now cannot be charged more than the residential shellfish permit fee, whether they live in Bourne or not, Mr. Southwood said.

The shellfish permit fee for a non-Bourne resident who lives in Massachusetts is $175. However, someone who lives in, or own taxable real property, in Bourne, pay only $35. The amended regulations allow any veteran living in Massachusetts to pay the resident rate of $35.

In addition, seniors (age 65 years or older) who are residents of Bourne pay $10 for a shellfish permit. Any veteran who is 65 or older and living in Massachusetts will only be charged the senior resident rate of $10.

“It’s the least we can do for somebody that served our country,” Mr. Southwood said.

Mr. Southwood said he needs to have the town’s shellfish regulations approved by the beginning of the new year. Assistant Town Administrator Glenn D. Cannon explained that in order to do that, the board would have to waive its standard three readings before voting on the measures.

The board voted in favor of a motion to vote on the regulations following a second reading at the selectmen’s meeting on Tuesday, December 3.

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