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State hires new leader to support communities, shellfish harvesters as they confront climate change

clams in tray_clam lab.jpg
Esta Pratt-Kielley
Maine Public
A group of young softshell clams that grew in nursery trays floating in the harbor in Gouldsboro, Maine from July to mid-November as part of a local effort to revitalize the fishery.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources has hired Meredith White to lead the Nearshore Marine Resources Program, which was formally known as the Shellfish Management Program. The program will support communities and shellfish harvesters as they confront climate change in Maine waters.

White says her first priority will be working with municipalities to help manage soft-shell clams, which are not doing well in many areas.

"Populations are generally declining due to many different factors," White says, "many of which are directly or indirectly related to climate change."

White says she hopes to better understand how climate is affecting soft-shell clams, and how to adapt local clam management to changing conditions.

White will also gather long-term data on species abundance in inter-tidal ecosystems, and lead research on marine worms, blue mussels, and wild harvested seaweed.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.