Shellfishing areas restored under plan to clean up shores damaged in Buzzards Bay oil spill

Associated Press

Shellfishing areas will be restored and recreational activities will be enhanced under the second round of remediation projects to clean up the Massachusetts and Rhode Island shorelines damaged in a 2003 oil spill in Buzzards Bay, state and federal environmental officials said Friday.

The nearly $4.3 million plan includes the restoration of shoreline resources, including tidal marshes and beaches; aquatic resources, including lobster, shellfish and fin fishing habitats; and recreational resources, including public access.

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The first of the three restoration plans was finalized in 2012 to restore threatened piping plover populations.

A barged owned by Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. struck a rocky ledge at the mouth of Buzzards Bay in April 2003, spilling 98,000 gallons of oil. It polluted about 100 miles of the New England coastline, killing birds and closing shellfish beds.

Bouchard reached a $6 million environmental settlement.

Shoreline and aquatic habitats will be restored at Round Hill Marsh and Allens Pond Marsh in Dartmouth, as well as in the Weweantic River in Wareham. Populations of shellfish, including quahog, bay scallop and oyster, will be enhanced or restored through transplanting and seeding programs in multiple locations.

Public access opportunities will be created through a variety of projects, including acquisition of land in Fairhaven and Mattapoiset to increase the Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, trail improvements at several coastal parks and a disabled-accessible fishing platform in Fairhaven. New and improved public boat ramps will also be installed in Clarks Cove in Dartmouth and Onset Harbor in Wareham.

The Natural Resource Damages Trustee Council is composed of representatives from several state and federal agencies.