Maine clammers ‘in crisis’

FREEPORT – The Freeport Shellfish Commission is being urged to hire a regional shellfish coordinator to help solve problems that are threatening the area’s clamming industry.
 
The Maine Clammers Association has proposed a regional shellfish coordinator, who would work in the interest of fishermen in Casco Bay. Chad Coffin, president of the clammers association, will present the proposal for a regional shellfish coordinator, which would be a paid position, at the commission’s upcoming meeting. A meeting scheduled for Feb. 13 was postponed due to snow. Nora Healy, chairwoman of the shellfish commission, said on Monday that the next scheduled meeting is March 13, at 6:30 p.m., at the Freeport Community Center. She is unsure if an additional meeting would be held any earlier than that.
 
Healy said last week that problems such as water quality and the impact of invasive species such as green crabs are issues “that are broader than Freeport.” 
 
Coffin said he will refer to a report from Sara Randall, an environmental consultant the clammers association hired to collect data and to develop a job description and a budget.
 
The Freeport Shellfish Commission must decide if it wants to go along with a regional concept, instead of municipal shellfish warden, Coffin said. The clammers have been asking the town to make this conversion for years, he said.
 
“The Shellfish Commission in Freeport, and I see it everywhere, is frustrated the Town Councils and selectmen are resisting transitioning,” Coffin said. “Town government can’t do it. Clammers are seeing the resource disappear. We’re actually in a major crisis right now.”
 
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