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Clam Farming? As Harvest Declines, Group Launches Experiment On Maine Coast

Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
In this Monday, May 28, 2018, photo taken with a wide angle lens, a group of conservationists and clam diggers sprinkle baby clams onto plots on a mud flat on the Kennebec River in Arrowsic, Maine.

GEORGETOWN, Maine - New England's clam harvest is in decline, and people who want to save it are encouraging the industry to try turning to a new model - farming.

Fishermen have harvested soft-shell clams from coastal mud in Maine and other states for hundreds of years. But threats such as growing populations of predators drove Maine's harvest to its lowest total since the 1930s last year.

A Massachusetts sustainability nonprofit group called Manomet says the future of clamming could lie in seeding and growing them in tidal areas. The group operates an experimental farm and is launching two others, all along the Maine coast.

The group says farming can help grow the harvest because clam farmers can use nets to protect growing clams from predators like crabs.