Clam closure hits Hadley Point flats

BAR HARBOR — A popular area for digging clams will be closed for 18 months, after researchers found a dearth of adult clams in their latest round of study there.

Town councilors approved the closure of the east side of Hadley Point by unanimous vote March 3, following the recommendation of the marine resources committee (MRC). The closure, which will last from April 1 of this year to November 2016, is meant to allow juvenile clams in the area to reach legal size and to get through at least one annual reproduction cycle.

MRC chairman Chris Peterson, a marine biology professor at College of the Atlantic, told councilors that two of Bar Harbor’s four commercial clammers came to the committee to recommend the closure as a way to do some extended research work in the area and to try to get a handle on what is happening there.

“The thing that’s really obvious about clamming is you can tell what the patterns are. Knowing the processes that are causing those changes is tough,” Peterson said. “One of the reasons we want to do this closure on the east side is so we can actually do some tests and see if we can figure out what some of the processes that are causing this are.”

Hadley Point is not unique in its relatively low clam population, Peterson said. Many sites over the last couple of years have tested similarly, showing a lack of adult clams, and in many places, a lack of juvenile clams as well. Researchers tend to think that predators are responsible, with green crabs and ribbon worms at the front of the list, he said.

“The thing about green crabs is, warmer winter temperatures have led to increases in abundance,” Peterson said. In the 1950s, he explained, there was a similar explosion in green crabs after several warm winters, but the problem relaxed as colder conditions came back. Similarly, researchers expect green crabs to be down this year from the cold winter, he said.

Hadley Point is already considered a conservation area, with a limited amount allowed to be harvested by commercial clam diggers. The clam flats at Hadley Point are the most accessible of any in town, and they are popular among recreational clammers.

The area is monitored regularly by students from Mount Desert Island High School and College of the Atlantic.


Robert Levin

Robert Levin

Former reporter Robert Levin covered the people, businesses, governmental and nonprofit agencies of Bar Harbor. [email protected]
Robert Levin

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