BOSTON – The Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton is partnering with shellfish stakeholders to establish a Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative Task Force. 

The Task Force includes representatives of commercial shellfishermen, shellfish farmers, recreational harvesters, restoration groups, and municipalities, as well as legislative and executive office members, in an effort to provide comprehensive stakeholder participation. 

Members are tasked with engaging stakeholders and developing a comprehensive, coast-wide, holistic strategic plan for nearshore state and municipally managed shellfish resources.

Task force coordinator Scott Soares said  they’re partnering with several groups, including the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, the Nature Conservancy and the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association.

“They have received some funding to see how they can best maximize economic, environment and social benefits associated with near-shore shellfish resources,” said Soares.

For Massachusetts, the MSI is a first-of-its-kind partnership that brings together the Commonwealth’s major shellfish sectors (aquaculture, wild harvest, and restoration), with a mission to maximize the economic, environmental, and social benefits of the Bay State’s shellfish resources.

Near shore shellfish resources support robust recreational fisheries in coastal communities and directly generate more than $45 million annually from commercial wild harvest and aquaculture production.

“Beyond the state agencies that will looking at it from the perspective of how they can best streamline and facilitate the regulatory and oversight process, they also have municipal and local leaders as part of the discussion,” said Soares.

Shellfish also provide significant environmental benefits and contribute to the health of coastal ecosystems. 

Interest in and development of all aspects of shellfish have been on the rise in recent years driving the need for a comprehensive statewide plan that will support continued responsible growth, while improving communication among stakeholders and leveraging ongoing state and municipal efforts.