The ups and downs of the clamming industry

NOW: Ebbs and flows of clamming industry

FREEPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The clamming industry has its ups and downs.

“The problem with the clamming industry in Maine is that it’s a boom or bust cycle,” says the president of the Maine Clammers Association, Chad Coffin.

Last year, it was tough for diggers to find clams. Part of that is because of invasive species; but weather and water temperature can also play a factor in populations.

“There are more clams this year. Mostly they are the result of a cold winter we had in 2014,” said Coffin. “Cold water translates to much higher survival rates for soft shell clams.”

Clint Goodenow has been digging for clams most of his life in the flats of Freeport.

“We’ll spend probably four to five hours on the flats; harvest them; then take them to a dealer of our choice in the area and then he will have the masses spread them out where they need to go,” says Goodenow, who admits most of those clams go out of state.

All of that hard work doesn’t necessarily translate to good money. With a boom in population this year, the value has gone down.

“Last year we were getting around $170 a bushel, which is $3.35 a pound,” says Coffin. “This year, we’re getting $1.60 a pound, which is $80 a bushel.”

Does the Yarmouth Clam Festival pass along a boost to the local guys?

“A few of the restaurants that are on the fringe here are a little bit busier, so that helps. They put a lot of advertisement out there about clams, so it can’t hurt us,” says Goodenow. “Get people thinking about clams.”

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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