The Town of Barnstable Natural Resources supports 47 commercial shellfishers and on average 2700 recreational shellfishers with its propagation projects every year. Since so many projects are going on simultaneously and we only have so many hands, volunteers play a huge role in many of these projects. The projects are based around low tide work out in the field. Past projects have included planting seed shellfish under nets, harvesting and sorting quahogs, and freeplant legal quahogs in a open area and seeding others to allow them to grow more.

Barnstable Association for Recreational Shellfishing is one group that frequently has members that volunteer with us, but members come from all over. There is never any obligation to volunteer and there is a project for anyone and everyone. Some projects, however, do require a little more strenuous work than others, but there are usually tasks that are a little more low key. Projects can last anywhere from an hour to a few hours depending on what we are trying to accomplish.

If you would like to be on the email list to receive information about volunteering opportunities, please contact Liz Lewis at Elizabeth.lewis@town.barnstable.ma.us Of course, there is never any obligation to attend and you are welcome to come to as many or as few events as you would like.

Volunteering opportunities generally take place in the warmer months and can run from April-October. It is always a good idea to dress for the weather and bring items for the unexpected. Some days can be hot in the summer sun and other days freezing cold. It is New England after all! Water and snacks are usually a good idea too to keep you moving and happy.

Many volunteer opportunities involve helping Natural Resources harvest seed from one location to replant at another site. This could be to decrease the planting densities or to plant the quahogs closer to landings where people have access to them. Below are some pictures from past volunteering opportunities.

Once the quahogs of all sizes have been dug up, volunteers and staff often sort through the quahogs or cull them to separate seed quahogs from legal size ones. Most is done by hand to double check, but we also have culling grates to speed up the process!


Then we will work together to load up the boat with all of the quahogs and sprinkle them off the boat where there is good habitat and access for shellfishers.

Insert 9. Large quahog planting

Later in the summer, Natural Resources starts planting a lot of seed quahogs that were grown over the summer and now need to be placed under nets. This is a whole lot easier with the help of several volunteers.

A volunteer may work on unrolling and putting together the predator exclusion nets that go over the clams.

Other volunteers at the same time could be digging out a plotted area to remove predators and relocate larger shellfish.


Once this is done, volunteers and staff can spread the quahog seed over the plotted out area.

As you can see, there is a project for everyone and all volunteers are welcome. At the end of the year, we always celebrate!

Here is a link from our volunteer appreciation day 2014 and a little more about the volunteer opportunities:






Dan Horn
P 508-790-6272
F 508-790-6275
1189 Phinney's Lane
Centerville, MA. 02632

Public Records
Ann Quirk
Public Records Request
Natural Resource Officers


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