Written by Linc Bedrosian
CEDAR KEY — When Anna Hodges began harvesting clams in 1994, she earned 9 cents a clam. Now she gets 7 cents, but over half of what she and her husband, Mike — owners of Hodges Seafood — produce goes unsold because they say the market is saturated.
"We have (clam) farmers losing homes. We have clams out there dying," Anna said on Tuesday afternoon, from their clam boat in Cedar Key that cut through waters divvied up by barnacled poles — marking off the "leases," or plots of sea bottom where the clams are grown.
Only a couple of farmers stood working in shoulder-high water, an image reflecting the reality of the town's threatened livelihood — at least if you're a small clam farmer, which many people in this seaside hamlet are.
The farmers oppose state government's proposal to expand leases, which they say would increase clam production and concentrate it in the hands of local wholesaler Clamtastic Seafood Inc., whose production of clams the farmers contend has already caused clam prices to plummet.
"This lease expansion would throw us over the edge," said Mike Hodges, 55, who has been farming clams for 19 years. These days he spends only one day a week on the boat harvesting clams. He wishes it was more. "The rest of the time I spend patching nets," he said, adding that this was work he once hired out.
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The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...