Wednesday, 16 May 2018 16:56

Soft shell clams are declining Featured

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BEALS ISLAND - Juvenile soft shell or "steamer" clams aren't surviving to adulthood and that's having a big impact here in Maine.


So what does this mean for states economy and the future of clams?


Dr. Brian Beal, director of research at the Downeast Institute, said soft shell clams have been declining for years. 33% in the last five years and 2017 saw the lowest landings since 1930.


"Clammings in trouble," said Beal.


Beal said there are many reasons why soft shells clams are declining. For one the seawater temperates are getting warmer. "And that's leading to many more predators such as green crabs and milky ribbon worms, but also fish and some bird predators."


He said those populations of predators seem to be growing and as a result, soft shell clams are their main pray. "So there's an onslaught of these predators and there's not enough clams to swamp out the effects of their predation."


With the decline of soft shell clams due to predators and warmer temperatures, Dr. Beal said we must adapt to the increase in predators, and there are factors that can be put into place.


"One is if you're going to do some seeding on a flat then you can protect the seed with netting or other devices that will deter those predators," said Beal.


Beal said the decline of soft shell clams does have an effect on Maine's economy. "In 1973-74 time frame there were close to 5,900 clammers in the state of Maine today's there's 1,500."


He said the other major problem is in the market.


"Right now clams are selling for $45 to $50 a bushel to the clammer, which is fairly low compared to what it's been in previous years," said Beal.


Beal said the state of Maine has no investment in clam research. He wants to appeal to the legislature and the department of marine resources to add a fund dedicated to it.


Shonna Narine

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Shonna Narine joined the ABC7 and FOX22 team in August 2017. Originally from Long Island (although she hides her accent for TV) she's excited to see what Maine has to offer.

She graduated from Five Towns College in Dix Hills Long I...

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