The article about the work funded by the Freeport Town Council to examine the dynamics of green crab populations in the Harraseeket River and effects of green crabs on soft-shell clams objectively reported there were aspects of the study that did not proceed as intended, but the headline was inaccurate and misleading (“Freeport’s Study of Green Crabs Yields Little”).
A final report was submitted to the council last week, and is available online at tinyurl.com/greencrabs. It references a number of aspects of the study that provided useful information about green crab movements, sizes, sex ratios, and their spatial and temporal variability. Further, the study showed the devastating effects of green crabs on clams as small as 3/4 of an inch. Juvenile clams planted at Little River and Recompence flat in August in unprotected plots were devoured at a rate that left less than 2 percent by mid-November.
Volunteers, mainly shellfish harvesters, contributed hundreds if not thousands of hours of valuable time to support the study. Regardless, problems associated with the maintenance of green crab fencing did compromise two of the six studies. But even in those instances, the data showed that green crabs are a menace, our resource is in jeopardy, and doing nothing is not an option.
We encourage you to read the final report and draw your own conclusions about what information the study yielded.
Brian Beal, professor of Marine Ecology
University of Maine at Machias
Nora Healy, acting chairwoman
Freeport Shellfish Conservation Commission