Soft-shell clams are part of the economic backbone of Maine’s coastal communities. The state produces about 60% of the country’s soft-shell clams. Clams typically are Maine’s second most economically valuable marine resource, and the industry employs the second highest number of fishermen, after lobster fishing. In 2017 its dockside value was over $12 million, and the industry is valued at $36 million when wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants are included.
However, since 1980s, as water temperatures have warmed, statewide landings have declined by 75%. DEI’s research has investigated the cause of the decline, and have discovered the cause to be primarily increased predation. We have also demonstrated practices that help the fishery adapt to warming ocean waters by examining the effectiveness of different methods to protect shellfish from green crabs and other predators with the goal of enhancing soft-shell clam populations.
Read more about DEI’s soft-shell clam research projects below: