Mariners Proceed With Caution

Mariners Proceed with Caution – Annual Dredge Not Completed!!

Please see below the urgent communication from the Harbormaster regarding the Barnstable County Dredge which did not clear the approach channel to Popponesset Bay this season. The Dredge is owned and operated by Barnstable County and serves multiple towns on the Cape.
While Save Popponesset Bay is not responsible for this situation with the dredge, we have deep concerns about the safety of those who visit the Spit and navigate in and out of the Bay. We urge boaters to exercise extreme caution on the water and ask you to share this message widely with others.
Per below, if you have questions or concerns about this situation with the County Dredge, please reach out to the Harbormaster and/or the Town Manager who are working on short and long term measures to remedy this dangerous situation.
Harbormaster Robert Tomaino 508-539-1410 ext. 2106 or
Mashpee Town Manager Rodney Collins 508-539-1401 or
Popponesset Approach Channel Shoaling
Annual Dredge Not Completed
May 12, 2023
To: All Local Mariners
From: Robert Tomaino – Mashpee Harbormaster
Re: Popponesset Approach Channel Shoaling
To all local mariners:
This is to advise all local and Mashpee mariners that the Department of Natural Resources has become aware of shoaling in the area of the Popponesset Approach channel within Mashpee waters. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Approach channel will not be dredged this year. Multiple factors have contributed to this annual dredge not being completed. The three most significant factors include unprecedented wind and weather along with multiple mechanical malfunctions experienced by The Barnstable Country Dredge Program during the dredging period, and time of year restrictions put in place by Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program for Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus; threatened), Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii; endangered*), Common Tern (Sterna hirundo; special concern), and Least Tern (Sternula antillarum, special concern) habitat protection.
Furthermore, an incursion request was submitted by this Department to allow for an extended period of time to complete this project, but again due to unprecedented weather and mechanical malfunctions, this project was unable to occur prior to the migratory shorebird nesting occurring within the area of preapproved spoil placement and beach nourishment.
The Harbormaster, Mashpee Waterways Commission, and the Barnstable County Dredge Program along with other local and federal agencies are working diligently to complete this project before the end of the boating season. When more information is available, we will update the boating public accordingly.
Mariners are advised to use caution while transiting this area and we strongly suggest that mariners take advantage of the high tide cycles when possible. Mariners are further advised to pay particular attention to the shoaling and depth in this area.
Any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Harbormaster Division at 508-539-1410 ext. 2106 or by emailing