UMaine Researchers Present Recommendations to Improve and Adapt Maine’s Shellfish Management System

Three years of investigation by the New England Sustainability Consortium’s Safe Beaches & Shellfish project has resulted in recommendations that will help improve the state’s shellfish co-management system. Assistant professor Bridie McGreavy and Mitchell Center research associate Sara Randall recently presented their findings to an audience of industry members and managers at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, the largest annual gathering of fishermen in the state.

Left to right, Tyler Quiring, Carter Hathaway, and Bridie McGreavy

The presentation, “How do we innovate in shellfish co-management and industry? Recommendations from a study of Maine’s Municipal Co-Management System,” issued five recommendations for improving the co-management system and drew from a recently authored technical report to the Division of Marine Resources (DMR) on how to improve the use of science in shellfish management.

One of the top recommendations was to create a yearly assessment and information system to enable DMR to tailor its work with a town in a more adaptable way. Another key recommendation was for towns to recognize the importance of diverse forms of leadership and to proactively encourage such leadership, especially through the role of the shellfish warden.

Researchers on the project collected extensive qualitative data including observations of 49 different monthly municipal Shellfish Committee meetings in all areas of the coast, 41 interviews with clammers, managers, regulators, dealers, and scientists, and analysis of 236 publically available and non-publically available Shellfish Committee meeting minutes from 2013-2016.

In addition, McGreavy and Randall presented the findings to the Maine State Shellfish Advisory Council, a group charged with providing recommendations to the DMR and the Marine Resources Joint Standing Committee of the Maine Legislature about matters of interest to the state’s shellfish industry in November of 2016.

Ph.D. student Tyler Quiring and undergraduate research assistant Carter Hathaway, both of the Department of Communication and Journalism, contributed to the shellfish research and video recorded the shellfish-focused presentations. The video recordings will be available to the public by the end of March.

By David Sims, Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions