Breaking News
More () »

How groups Down East are working to secure shore access for clam harvesters

Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and Schoodic National Scenic Byway Committee helped acquire two new properties Down East.

SULLIVAN, Maine — Conservation organizations are working with local towns and fisheries Down East to secure shore access for clam harvesters.

Earlier this month, Frenchman Bay Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and Schoodic National Scenic Byway Committee helped acquire two new properties in Sullivan and Gouldsboro. 

"What they need is for conservation organizations and towns to work together to protect sites like this one that are already invaluable for fishers," Aaron Dority, executive director for Frenchman Bay Conservancy, said. 

One parcel is located on Long Cove in Sullivan, and the other is located on the Jones Cove in Gouldsboro. 

Both parcels are going to be available for clam harvesters, who often have a difficult time finding guaranteed shore access. 

"If places like this become sold and are off limits to harvesters, people lose access to the water, and that means they lose access to the one place they need to make their livelihood," Dority added. 

Soft-shell clams brought in more than $16 million in revenue last year, making it the state's third most valued industry.  

Gouldsboro shellfish warden Mike Pinkham said he too often speaks with harvesters who have to rely local residents to let them use their properties. 

"What they'll do is knock on the door and speak to folks and see if they can get access across their property," Pinkham said. "If you let us maintain a 3-foot path down to the shore. ... That's all we need."

The two parcels are a win for harvesters, but Pinkham said educating the public as to why preserving public shore access is so important is what matters most in the long run. 

Pinkham has run events over the past few years to do so, in hopes to educate the public on how clams end up on plates. 

"I think it's going to be an uphill struggle for a while until we educate the folks that came here," Pinkham said. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out