SCARBOROUGH — Town officials have pledged to participate in a regional shellfish collaborative in an effort to improve communications and share resources and ideas with other municipalities.

“We’re all dealing with similar problems,” Shellfish Committee Chairman Nathan Orff said July 31. “So getting together for a brainstorming session, and seeing how everyone is issuing licenses and doing their conservation time, will be good for us.”

The town shellfish committee oversees licensing, limits shellfish harvesters, restricts time and areas for permitted digging, and limits the number of clams taken daily by harvesters, among other tasks.

The new Casco Bay Regional Shellfish working group, led by Freeport resident Jessica Joyce, already has pledged support from several other areas of the state with shellfish ordinances, including Brunswick, Harpswell, Yarmouth and Freeport.

Joyce said the aim is to hold meetings that are industry-led, grassroots initiatives attended by town officials, wardens, marine resource biologists and industry workers.

“We don’t want people to come to these meetings with preformed ideas. The hope is that we’ll meet a couple times a year to brainstorm and discuss what each area wants and needs,” she said. “Whether we talk about marketing, student licensing or water monitoring, we want the people to lead the discussion.”


There is no specific date set for the first meeting. Joyce said she is still in the process of getting other towns and cities on board, but thinks the first meeting will be held in September.

“We’re not starting sooner because it’s not a good idea to have industry meetings in the summer, when all the people affiliated with this subject matter are out working,” she said.

Joyce said she first saw the lack of organization and communication in the co-management system between municipalities and states when she was a member of the Cumberland Shellfish Conservation Commission, a post she held for nine years.

As principal at Tidal Bay Consulting, she decided to use her knowledge in fisheries policy, ocean planning and conservation, and environmental impact assessment to suggest the collaborative effort to several areas of the state earlier this year.

She said similar efforts in the past quickly petered out because the initiatives often relied specifically on volunteer efforts. This year, Joyce said an application from Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative for grant funding was submitted the Broad Reach Foundation, although she wouldn’t say for how much.

She said finding available funding for the project has been difficult because there isn’t a lot available for shellfish initiatives to begin with. The money, if received, may go toward municipalities in need of water testing, netting, trap boxes and other equipment that will help improve resources available to people in the shellfish industry.

“If (Scarborough) were to be awarded funds, we could potentially purchase seed boxes, which we use to catch baby clams, and for the sake of conservation we can redistribute them to ensure their chance of survival,” Orff said. “There’s just a lot of opportunity to support, grow and learn from one another.”


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