Integrating Science into Shellfish Management

Integrating Science into Shellfish Management

Since clams in Maine are co-managed by the state and local municipalities there are a lot of components to monitoring  and improving shellfish management across the state. MCA tracks both state and local shellfish program developments and advocates for the use of sound science in management decision making.

Local Level

MCA weighs in on local shellfish management by providing resources and education to municipal Shellfish programs.

For example, shellfish managers are invited to take part in field sampling and processing for the samples and data for the large-scale field research projects we conduct with the Downeast Institute. In 2017 we hosted a four-day “Ocean Discovery Days” to inform managers and policymakers of the discoveries made by scientists working collaboratively with clammers and how these discoveries can be integrated into shellfish management decisions. By giving managers real time information about the resource and marine ecosystem we enable them to make more informed decisions to benefit Maine’s marine based economy.

State Level

MCA has consistently monitored Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Marine Resources (DMR), and Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to ensure the best possible protection of the intertidal zone throughout Maine. In this way, MCA played a critical role in establishing interagency collaboration that benefits Maine’s fishing communities.

When necessary, the MCA takes action to advocate for statutory changes in regulations and the standard way things were done. For instance, after Maine clammers incurred almost $4 million in losses from red tide closures and run-off in 2005 after a high rains occurred after a couple years drought, MCA helped the DMR’s Bureau of Public Health implement more reasonable and common sense waterquality management tools. This allowed for a more complete picture of the shellfish resource to emerge.

Recently, MCA raised concerns about DMR”s proposal to significantly limit the subtidal quahog fishery at New Meadows Lake. Since it is subtidal it is not under town’s jurisdiction, and is one of the last open clam fisheries in southern Maine. MCA had significant questions about the scientific reasoning used by DMR to justify the closures. We questioned DMR through emails and public meetings and eventually submitted written comments outlining the problems. Click here to read our questions.

Through the years, MCA has cultivated a relationship with DMR that has facilitated a heightened sense of urgency within the agency about the issue of water quality. Through that relationship, the MCA was able to assist DMR in identifying and addressing serious concerns around their water testing program, shoreline surveys, and rain gauge testing.