Municipal Shellfish Program Guidance

Maine’s Municipal Shellfish Programs provide an already existing framework that can be updated and utilized to give Maine shellfish industry it’s best chance for restoring and preserving the public’s shellfish resources. However, since the management model (license limitations, 2-inch law, enforcing conservation closures) that has worked in for the past 35 years is not going to work in the future we need some changes. That is why MCA advocates for an expansion to an ecology-based active shellfish management approach. This new adaptive approach relies on enforcement of a modern Municipal Shellfish Conservation Program as well as addressing impacts to coastal water quality.

Municipal Shellfish Management is a working agreement between the state and the municipality that provides communities the opportunity to manage shellfish resources. There are approximately 78 municipal programs in the state of Maine.

Click below to read the Maine Clammers Association’s Municipal Management Guide:
Maine Clammers Association – Newsletter

Importance of the Role of the Shellfish Wardens

Shellfish Wardens, as paid municipal staff of the Shellfish Program, are the key components to facilitating a modern Municipal Shellfish Program.

Ideally, a modern Shellfish Warden will provide these functions to the town he/she is serving:

– Enforcement of the Municipal Shellfish Ordinance

  • Priority 1: Enforcement of a Modern Conservation Program
  • Priority 2: Enforce the ordinance in regards to the 2-inch law and tagging requirements, and protecting the flats from poachers.
  • Priority 3: Boater Education.
  • Priority 4: Animal control, including proper waste disposal.

Organization and oversight of the Municipal Shellfish Program

  • Priority 1: Conduct at least tri-annual softshell clam surveys of the town’s intertidal zone.
  • Priority 2: Create opportunities for municipal license holders to assume a more active role in protection and advocacy of shellfish resources.
  • Priority 3: record conservation hours/points of shellfish harvesters needed for renewing their commercial shellfish license.
  • Priority 4: Provide legal authority for conservation work.
  • Priority 5: file required DMR reports, municipal conservation closures, ordinance changes, etc.
  • Priority 6: Work with Town Councilors/Selectmen and communities.

Biological & Environmental

  • Priority 1: Oversee clam flat surveys
  • Priority 2: Develop and maintain strong relationship with DMR
  • Priority 3: Reliably collect and deliver water and clam meat samples for testing.
  • Priority 4: Ensure all municipal growing area samples are collected from a boat to ensure accuracy of the samples.
  • Priority 5: Identify and remediate immediately pollution sources, especially from specific system failures.
  • Priority 6: Cultivate positive dialogue between shellfish harvesters, regulators, environmentalists, local pet owners, and citizens.
  • Priority 7: Maintain a working relationship with local agricultural operations and stay abreast of developments in best management practices.
  • Priority 8: Engage boat owners in areas about pump out facilities.
  • Priority 9: Conduct shoreline surveys and train volunteers to do the same.
  • Priority 10: Work with local codes enforcement & related agencies.

Public Education, including school programs

  • Priority 1: Develop and teach stewardship programs in the school.
  • Priority 2: Actively seek outreach opportunities to educate citizens about stewardship techniques.

Challenges to creating a modern Shellfish Management Program

  • Varying levels of available resources at local and state level
  • Change is hard! However, without an aggressive move to transition already existing resources (i.e. Marine Resources Warden) it is likely that a municipal program will fail.
  • Depuration
  • Pollution

These challenges have solutions, such as:

  • Grant money
  • Interlocal agreements
  • Possible regionalization of wastewater treatment
  • Better information sharing among municipal programs