R-12-01 Spatial and temporal variation in the growth of the soft-shell clam along the coast of Maine

William G. Ambrose, Jr.
Professor of Biology
Bates College
Lewiston, ME 04240

Brian Beal
Professor of Marine Ecology
University of Maine at Machias
Machias, ME 04654

Soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) are one of the most important commercial marine species harvested in Maine. In the last decade, clam landings averaged $14 million a year to harvesters, and nearly $40 million annually to the state economy. Clams are also unique in that they are co-managed by the state and local municipalities or regional harvester committees. This is one of the oldest such co-management programs in the United States.

Knowing regional and local estimates of clam growth—how quickly stocks will reach commercial size—can help communities improve the way they manage the resource. Veteran Sea Grant researchers Ambrose and Beal will examine growth rates of wild clams and follow the growth of hatchery-reared juveniles in the wild. Growth will be assessed in different geographic regions of the coast and at different tidal heights. In addition to understanding growth rate variation along the coast, Ambrose and Beal hope to identify the most important environmental factors affecting clam growth, and provide communities with information specific to their clam flats.

Two-year project; total Sea Grant funds: $147,473