Established by Rhode Island General Law in 1844,(An act for the preservation of oysters and other shell fish within this state. "Sec. 8 At the annual general election the General Assembly shall choose three persons, citizens of and domiciled within this state, to be Commissioners of the Shell Fisheries).
In 1935 the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Game was established to replace the Commissioners of Shell Fisheries (established 1844), the Commissioners of Inland Fisheries (established 1870), and the Commissioners of Birds (established 1899). In 1965 the Division of Fish and Game was superseded by the Division of Conservation. In 1969 the Division of Conservation became the Division of Fish and Wildlife.