Readers have emailed us questions about the Community Clam Dig in Prospect Harbor at 3 PM next Sunday, October 9 that we featured in our most recent newsletter. This post answers those questions and extends an invitation to join us and learn more about what clam harvesters do and how you can dig your own clams.
Isn’t Prospect Harbor Closed to Clam Digging?
In the spring of 2021 the clam flats in Prospect Harbor were reopened after 40 years of closure due to pollution. After five years of successful tests and finding no evidence of pollution, the Maine Department of Marine Resources told the Gouldsboro shellfish committee that the Prospect Harbor clam flats were again safe for harvesting. The shellfish committee reseeded the flats and began restoration work.
Then, in December, the DMR suddenly saw evidence that someone’s septic system might be failing and polluting the water in the harbor. Shellfish warden Mike Pinkham and Jim McLean, the town Infrastructure Superintendent at that time, jumped into action and quickly located two residences on the harbor with old, inadequate septic systems that were now seeing much greater use as summer rental properties than in past years. The systems have been upgraded, and the DMR cooperated with the town to begin a regular, frequent testing cycle. Tests are now coming back showing that the water in Prospect Harbor now meets state water quality standards once again. Testing will continue, and we expect that Prospect Harbor will be open to harvesting in 2023.
Given that history, the Community Clam Dig will, with DMR permission, be a “dig and release” event. It is a way for you to find out how to get a license to dig clams, figure out how to locate clams on the mudflat, and do the digging. It’s not a way for everyone to go home with a peck of clams — but you can do that once you have your own Recreational Shellfish License.
The Maine DMR has given Gouldsboro permission to hold this event as a way to help people get a better understanding of what clam harvesting is all about. Why Prospect Harbor? Because the mud in Prospect Harbor is relatively firm and “user friendly” — a good place for folks to learn how to walk on mud without getting stuck.
So, I Can Dig Clams in Other Parts of Gouldsboro?
Yes. You can dig up to a peck of clams (8 cups, about 12 to 13 pounds) in Gouldsboro per day for your personal use, IF:
- The clam flat where you are digging is open. (Flats can be closed seasonally for conservation, because of large rainfalls, or for other reasons. The town office can provide information about seasonal closures. The DMR also publishes information about shellfish closures and an interactive map of closed areas.
- You are a real estate tax paying member of Gouldsboro.
- You do not hold a commercial shellfish license.
- You have a Resident Recreational Shellfish License from the Town of Gouldsboro.
- The clams you harvest are all at least 2″ on the longest diameter of their shell and no more than 4″.
How Do I Get a Resident Recreational Shellfish License?
- Apply at the Gouldsboro Town office in Prospect Harbor.
- The license comes with information about closed areas and other regulations.
- The cost is $26 per year, expiring on June 30 each year. If you are over 65 years of age, ask the town about a Lifetime License.