Shellfish Resilience and Restoration

The Lesko site on October 23, 2018, as students and harvesters retrieved the experiments.

CSI-Maine has worked with Gouldsboro and other communities over the past four years to address the substantial impacts of climate change on soft-shell clams and other shellfish. We have demonstrated that students can assist communities in collecting and analyzing data to inform resource management decisions. Our work in 2018-19 provides an example of the scientific work that students can do and of why the results matter.

Last year we moved from collecting data about the problem to working with the town of Gouldsboro to do something about it. With funding from the Maine Shellfish Restoration and Resilience Fund, we began work on a shellfish lab that will enable us to develop and test approaches to growing seed clams at a local, community scale.

Soft-Shell Clams and Climate Change

Green crabs have been eating soft-shell clams on the coast of Maine since the early 1900s. But as water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have risen and as winters have become milder, green crabs are growing more quickly, and more of them are surviving the winter. With more crabs eating clams, the population balance between crabs and clams has shifted dramatically, and there are fewer clams to harvest (See posts on this site about Green Crab and Soft-shell Clam lifecycles.)

Gouldsboro and other communities use a combination of clam seeding and predator exclusion to restore flats to productivity. Clam seeding involves placing tens of thousands of one-year-old clams on the clam flats. Predators (primarily green crabs and seagulls) are excluded by placing nets over the newly seeded clams.

Even though this approach to shellfish restoration has been successful, it is limited by the cost of purchasing one-year-old seed clams. CSI-Maine is working with Gouldsboro, schools, and other partners to bring down these costs.

Program Update – 02/02/21

We have finally started work on the shellfish lab! At this point, it is still just planning and list-making, but we are finally moving forward. Come take a look inside the building.

Email Us if You Have Questions or Need Something

Write to us if you need help, have questions, or want to know more about CSI-Maine’s work with schools to help communities restore and sustain their shellfish resources.

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