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History of Molluscan Fishery Regulations and the Shellfish Officer Service in Massachusetts

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Lind, Henry
Journal: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 71
Page(s): 50-61
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6957
Sector: Fisheries
Region: North America
Subject(s): fisheries--history
resource management
Abstract: "Oysters, Crassostrea virginica, and softshell clams, Mya arenaria,along the Massachusetts coast were harvested by European colonists beginning in the 1600’s. By the 1700’s, official Commonwealth rules were established to regulate their harvests. In the final quarter of the 1800’s, commercial fishermen began harvesting northern quahogs, Mercenaria mercenaria, and northern bay scallops, Argopecten irradians irradians, and regulations established by the Massachusetts Legislature were applied to their harvests also. Constables (also termed wardens), whose salaries were paid by the local towns, enforced the regulations, which centered on restricting harvests to certain seasons, preventing seed from being taken, and personal daily limits on harvests. In 1933, the Massachusetts Legislature turned over shell-fisheries management to individual towns. Local constables (wardens) enforced the rules. In the 1970’s, the Massachusetts Shellfish Officers Association was formed, and was officially incorporated in 2000, to help the constables deal with increasing environmental problems in estuaries where fishermen harvest mollusks. The constables’ stewardship of the molluscan resources and the estuarine environments and promotion of the fisheries has become increasingly complex."

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