For Immediate Release - August 14, 2013

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

Project supports commercial shellfish harvesters and improves harbor's ecology

BOSTON – Wednesday, August 14, 2013 – 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 revitalize the wild soft shell clam population in Boston Harbor.

“This public-private partnership is working to restore Boston Harbor’s soft shell clam population, which will support the shellfish industry while benefiting the harbor’s ecosystems,” said Commissioner Griffin. “We are grateful to the volunteers, organizations and cities and towns working with us to restore the harbor’s soft shell clam resource.”

Over 70 volunteers from the Thompson Island Outward Bound Program, the Thompson Island Green Ambassadors, the Hyde Park Green Team, 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.

“Thanks to the hard work of DMF staff and dedication of this cooperative group, over seven million seed clams have been planted in almost 450 enhancement plots in Boston Harbor communities in the last eight years,” said DMF Director Paul Diodati.

After decades of environmental degradation, disease, poor larval recruitment and overfishing, these populations have reached a critical tipping point. The enhancement project aims to limit this decline and reduce losses for the fishery. DFG and DMF 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. This type of bottom-up enhancement can benefit the 100 specially-licensed commercial shellfish harvesters in Boston Harbor, while improving 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.