Protecting Shellfish with Management Plans

Communities can enact local or multiple-community management plans with the purpose of ensuring the protection and optimum utilization of shellfish resources. Primarily, the ordinance authorizes the licensing of harvesters, limiting the number of harvesters, limiting the size of shellfish (clams) harvested, restricting the area of harvest and/or limiting the size of harvest. The Maine Department of Marine Resources provides assistance to communities. Picture of the Maine Clam Handbook cover

With a shellfish management plan, a local shellfish committee or officials can plan activities, such as stock surveys; rotation or conservation closures; brushing, netting and/or seeding projects. These plans also allow local identification of priority areas for addressing water quality and other concerns that lead to closures, with the help of the Maine Department of Marine Resources. When areas are set to be opened, a community can apply for a conservation closure, allowing a stock survey to be conducted in order to then address any anticipated impacts from opening the area to harvesting. 

What can municipal officials do?

Approaches to Shellfish Management 

The approaches to shellfish management--the structure of local policies--varies along Maine's coast.

Raising Revenue

Regardless of the policy approach taken, funding must be raised to support management. A shellfish warden is required to enforce the ordinance, who may also need funds for patrolling the shellfish resource. The management or conservation activities often require funds for outreach and materials. 

Communities utilize any combination of the following to raise revenue:

Examples of Management Plans

Model ordinances and plans can be obtained from the Maine Department of Marine Resources and other state agencies.

Gathering Input and Support

WCCOG staff provide services to engage municipal officials and citizens.

Find other support and resources.