For Immediate Release - July 25, 2012

State Marine Officials and Volunteers Work to Enhance Boston Harbor’s Soft Shell Clam Resources

Project designed to support commercial shellfish harvesters and improve harbor's ecology

BOSTON – Wednesday, June 25, 2012 – Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin and biologists from DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) today joined youth volunteers from local environmental non-profit groups on the clam flats of Boston’s Thompson Island to help enhance the wild soft shell clam population in Boston Harbor.

“Soft shell clams have been declining for two decades in Boston Harbor and this public-private partnership is designed to restore the fishery that supports jobs in the shellfish industry while benefiting the harbor’s ecosystems,” said Commissioner Griffin. “We are extremely grateful to the volunteers and organizations who are working with us to restore the harbor’s soft shell clam resource.”

Volunteers from the Thompson Island Outward Bound Program, the Thompson Island Green Ambassadors, the Hyde Park and Mystic River Green Teams, the National Park Service, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, and Salem State University’s Northeast Massachusetts Aquaculture Center assisted DMF in seeding clams on Thompson Island. Other partners include the cities of Boston and Quincy, the towns of Hingham, Hull, Weymouth, Winthrop, and Revere, commercial harvesters,area harbormasters and shellfish constables.

“Due to the hard work of DMF staff and dedication of this cooperative group, over six million seed clams have been planted in almost four hundred enhancement plots in communities around Boston Harbor in the last six years,” said DMF Director Paul Diodati.

Through decades of environmental degradation, disease, poor larval recruitment and overfishing, these populations have reached a critical tipping point. The enhancement project’s primary goal is to limit this decline and mitigate losses for the fishery. DFG and DMF also hope the outreach project will help residents and visitors of Boston Harbor communities learn about the biology,ecology, and local fishery of soft shell clams and become the stewards of its future.

In the case of soft shell clams, not just the fishery is impacted when stocks decline;clams serve as an important food source for a number of recreational and commercial fish species in Massachusetts including winter flounder, striped bass, and horseshoe crabs to name just a few. This type of bottom-up enhancement should benefit the hundred specially-licensed commercial shellfish harvesters in Boston Harbor, while helping to improve the greater harbor ecosystem.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.

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