Letter: Research points to predators for clam decline

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I thought Friends of Casco Bay conducted science, and then advocated for the health of Casco Bay based on results. Instead, it appears that they are an advocacy organization that bases their opinions on popular thought and ideas ignoring science-based efforts. One example is coastal acidification.

According to FOCB’s newsletter, a board member noticed Casco Bay clams are “smaller and more fragile” than ones from past years. The newsletter says that those perceptions, “seem to correspond to observations FOCB has been making over the years” that muddy sediment close to the shore where clams live is more acidic than mud further away from land. The insinuation is that coastal acidification causes a reduction in shell thickness that ultimately is linked to a reduction in commercial clam landings.

During the past three years, I have participated in research in northern Casco Bay to examine populations of juvenile clams that are the most susceptible to acidic seawater and mud. Results were presented last June at the Maine Ocean and Coastal Acidification Symposium, and showed unequivocally that compared to predation by fish, worms, crabs, and other consumers, coastal acidification was unimportant in explaining the decline in clam populations. It is unclear why FOCB continues to ignore these results offering, instead, a popular theory that fits like a glove into their work to reduce land-based pollution. Invasive and native predators are driving clam population declines.

Chad Coffin, president
Maine Clammers Association