Clamming is an important industry economically and culturally in the state of Maine. It provides whole and nutritious food protein to Mainers and people from out of state. Shellfish are a public trust resource- meaning that the government is responsible for managing the resource for all citizens to benefit from. Clammers serve as a conduit between those Mainers that are not able to harvest clams personally and the resource itself. Clamming is a back-breaking occupation, and Maine’s wild clammers work hard to provide food, contribute to the economy, and continue a cultural tradition.
The shellfish industry is one of Maine’s most valuable sectors. The profession of clamming directly employs over 1,500 people in the state of Maine*. The latest study on the value of the Maine shellfish industry found that the total economic impact of the shellfish industry is around $56.0 million, with $29.9 million going to Maine residents as employment income. The shellfish industry provides non-polluting economic revenue in the form of direct impacts (sales, employment wages, taxes) and indirect (the boost in sales and incomes in businesses related to the shellfish industry such as markets and restaurants). For example, clammers purchase supplies (gas, boots, boats, motors, hoes, trucks, etc.) within Maine. Additionally, clammers pay the Maine and town taxes that pay for schools, enforcement, roads improvements, firefighters, and other public services. Clams are purchased locally in markets and restaurants, which also contributes to local employment.
However, shellfish could be contributing much more to Maine’s economy. The MCA is working to restore the industry to it’s historic standing in Maine’s economy. In order to achieve this goal, the MCA has been and continues to work strategically to address pollution and climate change impacts by challenging communities, shellfish regulators, and the fishermen themselves to assume responsibility and take necessary action.
Clamming is a way of life that is often passed down through families in Maine.
The Clam Digger
-by Delicia Powers
With his back bent over the mudflats
Busy reaping the shore
His face stern and weather-worn
By endless seasons of early morns.
Made from hard work
The steel of his forearms
Dripping with sweat…
He works alone
On the salty ocean brim
Of Maine’s history.