Project contacts: Jeff Kennedy, Thomas Shields

MarineFisheries Biologists planting trays of soft shell clams.
MarineFisheries Biologists planting trays of soft shell clams.

The intent of this project is to restore and/or enhance local shellfish stocks in the Boston Harbor area. Soft-shell clams were identified as impacted by the pipeline construction and this species is targeted. Grants are being distributed to communities in greater Boston Harbor with active "open" shellfish areas for municipal propagation.

Of the twelve (12) or more communities in the vicinity of the HubLine pipeline construction, only the following five (5) communities have "open" shellfish areas; Boston, Hull, Quincy, Weymouth and Winthrop. Stock enhancement and propagation in prohibited/closed areas is contrary to the NSSP due to public health and law enforcement concerns. In fact, the ISSC and FDA encourages/recommends stock depletion in long term, prohibited areas. For these reasons, shellfish propagation and/or stock enhancement in the remainder of the impacted communities is not recommended or proposed by MarineFisheries. In the above five communities, only soft shell clams are 'available for harvest for depuration' due to the current sanitary classification. Due to state regulations, shellfish aquaculture is precluded from existing productive areas. Optimal sites are historic habitat but currently unproductive. Due to these constraints, available sites are limited. The intent of this grant program is to develop an effort which can be expanded harbor-wide.

Airport Digger

This program will distribute grants to the five Boston Harbor communities assumed to be impacted by the Hubline; Boston, Hull, Quincy, Weymouth and Winthrop and adds Hingham to the program as a neighboring Boston Harbor community and to expand the potential list of available sites. An Aquatic Biologist will serve as a grant program administrator and also provide shellfish propagation technical assistance. Grants would be awarded to communities or non-governmental organizations for use in Boston Harbor communities.

Site selection is critical to successful shellfish aquaculture. Sites will be identified and selected by MarineFisheries and the local municipality. A standard contract (similar to existing MarineFisheries agreements) will be used to limit the expenditure of funds to shellfish propagation work, with requirements for annual reports. The grantee will be required to obtain all necessary permits.

Currently, "clam tents" are the preferred method for soft shell clam aquaculture. Wild soft shell clam larvae are 'captured' using netting spread across a flat. New methods employ plastic trays beneath the netting to aid in removal of the juvenile clams for grow-out.