Regional meeting to address declining clam population

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BRUNSWICK — Casco Bay communities are being invited to a regional meeting that will discuss the alarming decline in clam population. 

Biologists and clammers have said soft-shell clams, in particular, have been declining over the past decade due to predatory crab species and ocean acidification.

The purpose of the March 7 meeting is to bring representatives from Scarborough to Phippsburg together to begin discussing a regional approach to shellfish conservation, Brunswick Marine Patrol Officer Dan Devereaux said.

“What we’re hoping to do is try to talk about regional approach to conservation measures and management measures as they pertain to soft shell clams,” Devereaux said. “We’re trying to reach an audience outside of the fishermen and more towards the elected officials and town managers so they can understand the issues we’re facing.”

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the municipal meeting room at Brunswick Station on Station Avenue.

Devereaux said he will moderate the discussion, but he also will be joined by Chad Coffin, president of the Maine Clammers Assocation, for a presentation on the situation. He said the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership along with a other nonprofit organizations will discuss their recent conservation projects.

Devereaux said he hopes the meeting will serve as a kick-off for a greater discussion about regional conservation measures.

The conservation measures can vary in scope and work, Devereaux said, ranging from setting local bounties on the green crab population that has been wreaking havoc on soft-shell clams, to seeking funding for regional programs.

Another discussion point of the night will be proposed legislation that will seek to put limits on bloodworm harvesting, which Devereaux said can have a harmful effect on soft-shell clams.

“We want to target areas of high density clam areas and if they haven’t reached a harvestable tipping areas, we want to conserve those flats,” Devereaux said.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.