ROCKPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Earlier this week we shared a NEWS CENTER special report about the threat to Maine's shellfish industry from the European Green Crab.
As we reported, clammers and others in the shellfish business say the green crab is eating up clam beds all along the coast, especially those with small juvenile clams. The harvesters and scientists say the future of the state's whole clam and shellfish industry is at risk.
State government has apparently heard their cries for help. Today Governor Paul LePage went to a green crab workshop at the Maine Fishermen's Forum to sign an executive order, creating a special Green Crab Task Force.
He says that task force will be made up of state officials, scientists and people from the shellfish industry, to study what the state, towns and the industry can do to protect what he says is a valuable fishery.
The Governor told the crowd the latest numbers for the 2013 season show the state's shellfish industry has an overall economic benefit of nearly $50 million, which he called "significant".
Shellfish is Maine's third largest fishery in terms of value, after lobster and elvers. There are roughly 1,500 licensed shellfish diggers.
But a coastal legislator says the Governor is late to the green crab issue, and that lawmakers and industry have already come up with a plan to fight the crab.
Senator Stan Gersofsky (D-Brunswick) says they will soon be voting on a bill that would allow towns to close off sections of flats to both clammers and marine worm diggers, so they can install fences and traps to keep crabs away while those areas rebuild their clam populations.