Harsh winter weather hard on Maine's clam diggers

PERRY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Clam diggers in Maine don't frequently get to take days off or work seasonally, including when the snow piles up.

"It's unbearable sometimes to stay down here but you've got to do what you've got to do to survive," said clam digger, Jaclyn Sockbeson.

The amount of money diggers make in a day depends on how many clams they can dig up before the tide rolls in. The snow plows in rural Washington County have to focus on the main arterie - highways and heavily trafficked road - when the snow falls as heavily and consistently as it has been. This means the pathways the diggers use to get to the mud flats are blocked by snow and and snow banks left by plows. Frozen ground and cold and windy conditions also cuts down the available time to dig. Local seafood buyers said they've seen their landings drop about 90 percent in just the path month. For some, clam digging is their only source of income.

"A guy or a gal goes out and digs a bushel of clams, 50 pounds, all of a sudden is coming in with ten pounds or isn't coming in for two or three days because it's so numbingly cold," said biologist and Gulf of Maine Inc. owner, Tim Sheehan.

Some clam diggers and buyers said the only thing keeping them up on their quota is that the winter season price of clams is the highest it's been in years, $2.10 a pound. In years past, they've gone for a dollar or less a pound.


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