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State reopens clams flats closed for 80 years

October 17, 2013

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (AP) — The state is reopening 250 acres of clam flats in Newburyport that had been shut down for the last 80 years because of bacterial contamination.

State officials say a section of the Joppa Flat in the Merrimack River estuary will now be open to specially-licensed commercial softshell clam diggers.

The harvesting will be limited to weekdays and the clams must be treated at a Division of Marine Fisheries plant where the shellfish cleanse themselves in clean seawater.

The flat will also be closed for several days after a quarter inch of rain, which can bring contaminated run off.

The Joppa Flat was once one of the top clam-producing flats in the state. State officials say it’s open again after a concerted Merrimack River cleanup effort that began two decades ago.

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