Waldoboro, Thomaston receive shellfish grants

By Beth A. Birmingham | Mar 13, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Waldoboro Town Manager Julie Keizer, left, announces March 12 a grant the Shellfish Committee recently received. Also shown are Selectmen Jann Minzy, center, and Abden Simmons.

Rockport — Two local shellfish committees are among 14 that received grants to assist in their efforts to improve their shellfish industry.

As announced at the recent Fishermen's Forum, Waldoboro and Thomaston will receive grants for their Maine Shellfish Restoration and Resilience Projects.

The Georges River Shellfish Committee will receive $14,000, and the Waldoboro Shellfish Committee, $6,700.

Waldoboro Selectman and Shellfish Committee member Abden Simmons said the funds will be used to move clam seeds to a safer location along the Medomak River, as well as tie in with the mapping project Gabrielle Hillyer, a graduate student from the University of Maine at Orono, has been working on.

Hillyer has been deploying drifters in order to map tidal currents and measure temperature, salinity, light intensity, pH and dissolved organic carbon.

Simmons said the combination would help determine the best placement of the seeds so they can thrive.

A matching grant will be realized from the Shellfish Committee, with no effect on taxpayers.

The committee plans to hire harvesters to gather and reseed the clams by the bushel. Simmons estimated moving about 60 bushels per year over the three-year period, and said the work would be a good source of income for the harvesters.

Waldoboro Town Manager Julie Keizer said the committee will look to interns or researchers from UMO to monitor the project to see how the clams grow and how fast they develop.

Thomaston Shellfish Committee Chairman David Taylor said the Georges River grant will be used to chase pollution, including DNA testing, in an effort to open more areas for clamming.

Taylor said the five-town community organization -- consisting of Warren, St. George, Cushing, Thomaston and South Thomaston -- has 5,980 acres of water under some kind of state management.

"Of those, all are closed, except 2,025 which are labeled conditional," Taylor said; those close when more than an inch of rain falls. He said 3,275 are prohibited acres that can't be dug in at all and 680 are restricted.

He said through DNA testing the group hopes to find out what the pollutants are and see what needs to be done to open those areas.

"It's a lot of area," Taylor said.

He said two samples are taken regularly from each area, with one being analyzed in Boothbay and another going for testing at the University of New Hampshire.

A total of $103,500 in grants was awarded.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

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