BAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor Marine Resources Committee will review the town’s shellfish conservation ordinance at its meeting on Oct. 18 after a discrepancy left two licenses open to the public.
Committee Secretary Chris Petersen said the committee changed the licensing rules in 2012 to say that applicants had to do a minimum of seven hours of conservation work. Coming to committee meetings counts towards those hours, as does helping with hands-on research or conservation work.
“It gets the commercial fishers working with students,” Petersen told the Islander. “It’s really had a nice benefit.”
The four commercial shellfish licenses are normally only available to residents of Bar Harbor. The conservation hours also are useful to determine who would be eligible for the license, Peterson said. In the past, clammers who relied on getting the license every year camped out at the town office to be sure they were first in line.
Three of the four licenses were essentially predetermined by these conservation hours, with one remaining open to the public. But this year, only two people met the requirements for conservation hours before the deadline.
The committee originally thought that the two remaining licenses would stay vacant.
“State rules say that after 90 days, those licenses have to be eligible to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Petersen said.
On Oct. 1, three people put their names in for the licenses, Petersen said.
Petersen said that the main concern of the committee was that the seven conservation hours be mandatory for all applicants, but that is not a state regulation.
Petersen said that clams “haven’t been doing well” in Maine.
“From Trenton to Sorrento, they have noticed a 25 to 30 percent drop in harvesters,” Petersen said.
He said that an influx of green crabs could be affecting the population. The committee is undertaking a study to see if the population is affected by predators.
The committee will look to work with the state to make the seven hours mandatory for all applicants, even after the 90-day period.
The committee plans a clam population census at Hadley Point on Oct. 17.