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October 6, 2016

Downeast economy already reeling from clam flat closures

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Tim and Amy Sheehan, co-owners of Gulf of Maine Inc. in Pembroke. Tim Sheehan wrote an email to Gov. Paul LePage and several legislators requesting assistance to mitigate the impact of the closure of clam flats in Downeast Maine.

Mud flats along the coast of Downeast Maine have been closed to clam digging after The Maine Department of Marine Resources detected a type of marine neurotoxin that could afflict clams and other mollusks harvested from that area.

Jeff Nichols, a DMR spokesman, told Maine Public that the mud flat closure stretches from Otter Point on Mt. Desert Island, east to Maine's border with Canada.

"We're very confident that through the recall and through the closure that we've taken all of the necessary steps to prevent any of the impacted shellfish from entering the supply chain," Nichols told Maine Public. "We definitely take it seriously."

Closure's impact on Downeast economy

In an email obtained by Mainebiz to Gov. Paul LePage and several legislators, Tim Sheehan, co-owner of Pembroke-based Gulf of Maine Inc., said the impact of the closure is already being felt in the region.

"This action started one week ago and this is a very serious hit to our clam economy. On a daily basis, our company alone was paying out $3,000 to $5,000 per day to local diggers before this shutdown," wrote Sheehan. "That means that in one week alone our area has lost $20 to $30K in revenues alone. Not only lost to us as shellfish dealers, but to the diggers, and to the local stores, and businesses. At a minimum, each of our 30 to 50 diggers is out $100 per day per tide in lost income."

"There are literally many hundreds of clam diggers [and] harvesters who are out of work, have no income and have families to feed," Sheehan added. "We will need help from the State of Maine."

Read more

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Select mud flats reopen for shellfish harvesting

Maine Department of Marine Resources issues shellfish recall

Inside the Notebook: Seeding clams in Downeast Maine

Shellfish harvesters train to combat bacterium

Company seeks to build up clamming in Maine's poorest county

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