Ockway Bay Ramp

Ockway Bay ramp and dock.

Mashpee’s shellfish aquaculture program could move further into public view this summer as the expanding quahog propagation efforts are outgrowing their current residence along Little River, and are likely to spread to the Ockway Bay public landing.

The natural resources department is considering seeding two million of the 11 million quahogs ordered for the coming year on floats that would be attached to the Ockway Bay landing, Ashley Fisher, the shellfish constable, said Tuesday.

“It’s going to be a dual purpose spot, public access and propagation,” Ms. Fisher said of the Ockway Bay location. “We don’t have enough room in Little River for 11 million [quahog].”

In the past, quahog propagation has taken place along Little River in Waquoit Bay, where floating upweller systems, or FLUPSYs, built into the dock outside the harbormaster’s office, are used to raise quahogs from seed before they are broadcast into the bay and covered with predator nets in the fall.

The expansion into Ockway Bay and the Popponesset Bay area would bring the shellfish program within view of those using the public landing just as the program is looking to recruit more volunteers to help with its operations.

“I need to have people for propagation with the quahogs, for volunteers to come down and learn about upweller systems and cleaning them and measuring them,” Ms. Fisher said at the shellfish commission meeting on Tuesday. “I want to get a lot of volunteers involved.”

The 11 million quahog seed ordered this year more than doubles the approximately 4.5 million raised last year.

The growing shellfish operation is intended to help Mashpee’s nitrogen-impaired waters and brings the town closer to the goals laid out in its Comprehensive Watershed Nitrogen Management Plan, which calls for some 20 million quahog to be seeded.

About 0.5 grams of nitrogen can be removed from the town’s nitrogen-polluted waters per quahog.

Department of Natural Resources director Richard H. York Jr. said the expansion to Ockway Bay follows the timeline in the town’s nitrogen management plan.

“We started with the Little River area but the next thing on the list is Ockway Bay,” Mr. York said. “The quahog did really well at Little River. I would assume they would grow really well over there as well.”

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