Islesboro Soft-shell clam restoration project

The town of Islesboro is working to restore the commercial harvest of soft-shell clams in their area. Previous conservation and seeding efforts had not produced noticeable improvement in soft-shell clam numbers, however recruitment box studies in the area have shown there are extensive juvenile clams floating in the water.

This year, the Islesboro Shellfish Conservation Committee, along with members of the Downeast Institute and the Islesboro Central School is working to protect native clams from predation in the hopes to expand small scale efforts to commercial levels. The primary goal of this project is to return overwintered 1 year old clams to the mudflats within predator protection nets. The second goal of this project is to highlight the economic benefits from having a commercial harvest of soft-shell clams. To do this, the group is building two types of recruitment boxes to place juvenile clams in and distribute along the flats, as well as reseed clams under 14 ft. x 14 ft. nets. The first is the standard box with flexible mesh on the top and bottom to protect clams from predators above and below. The second will have a biofilm fabric or burlap bottom that will dissolve away, leaving clams on the mud but still relatively protected from predators by the remaining box. Depending on the results from this study, each type will be left to overwinter, and be retrieved in 2021. 


Janis Petzel – Project Coordinator