From Scott Gile, Orr’s Island
Relative to your November piece on clam harvesters, five or six years ago, when we were living in Freeport, there was a study done in Casco Bay on the decline of the clam population, I believe by the University of Maine. The results of the study were presented to a good-sized group of clammers and conservationists in Freeport.
The study concluded that the balance of the reduction in the soft-shell clam population was due to the predation of green crabs. Further, the study indicated that staking a certain gauge of netting to the flats essentially eliminated the crabs’ ability to get to the immature clams.
The study group recognized that, traditionally, clammers freely move from one spot to another in their fishing. Because of the fixed nature of these recommended nets, they recommended that the clammers sign some nominal lease on productive areas and stake their nets, radically increasing their yield.
The clammers’ unanimous response went something like, “We ain’t never done that before, and we ain’t gonna start that now!” Adapting to the times is what has traditionally made Maine fishermen survivors, so why not work out a way to use this proven, simple and inexpensive technology via a mutually workable spacing system agreed upon between clammers and regulators? There are plenty of us out here who love to eat soft-shell clams!