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Shellfish Program Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 1
This publication is courtesy of the Department of Marine Resources Public Health Division for the shellfish industry, town municipalities and the general public with the goal of sharing information, providing updates on current PHD staff projects, and communicating current issues that impact coastal communities regarding water quality and the shellfish resource.
coastal lighthouse
American oyster   Sea Scallop  Softshell clam  European Oyster  Quahog
What’s Inside?

Can You Dig It: Recent Increases To Shellfish Harvest Areas

Shoreline Surveys: Determining Priorities for 2011

Town Resources: Grants Available, Deadlines Coming Up!

Community: Working Together For Shellfish

Facts: Did You Know...

Upcoming Events - Send us info about your event!

Horse mussel Razor clam  Mahogany quahog Surf clam Blue mussel

Can You Dig It: Recent Upgrades To Shellfish Harvest Areas

Shellfish areas along the coast are annually re-evaluated by DMR staff to identify and assess the impacts of pollution. Because shellfish are filter feeders, they will take up and accumulate pollution from the water in their tissue, leaving them unsafe for consumption. If new water sample results for an area show that water quality has improved to meet higher standards and known pollution sources have been remediated and documented to verify that shellfish are safe to harvest, upgrades to these areas can be completed by staff and harvestable acreage increased for industry. More detailed information about specific shellfish areas and the history of how and why upgrades occurred can be found in the Growing Area reports.
Recent Classification Upgrades
Date Location Town Old Classification New Classification Why?
3/29/2011 Sherman Creek and Wildcat Creek Edgecomb, Boothbay Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water quality improved to seasonally meet approved standards.
3/28/2011 Nonesuch River Scarborough Restricted Approved The town and shellfish committee fixed known pollution sources and water quality improved.
3/23/2011 Montsweag Bay - Oak Island Woolwich Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water quality seasonally meets approved standards.
3/23/2011 Montsweag Bay - East of Phipps Point Woolwich, Westport Is. Prohibited Restricted Water quality meets restricted standards.
3/15/2011 Town Boat Ramp West Bath Prohibited Conditionally Approved A known pollution source was fixed or removed.
3/14/2011 Hornbarn Cove Cushing Restricted Approved A dilution calculation for a stream reduced the size of the restricted area.
3/10/2011 Burnt Coat Harbor Swan Island Prohibited Approved Shoreline survey updated and pollution sources were fixed or removed.
3/2/2011 Hospital Point South Thomaston Conditionally Restricted Conditionally Approved Water meets approved standards seasonally.
3/2/2011 Bradstreet Cove South Bristol Prohibited Approved One failing septic system was fixed and water meets apprived standards.
3/2/2011 Brave Boat Harbor Kittery, York Prohibited Approved Shoreline survey completed and water meets approved standards.
2/25/2011 Hutchins Point Penobscot Restricted Approved Water quality improved, and a dilution calculation reduced the size of a restricted area around an OBD.
2/11/2011 * Eastern Quahog Bay Harpswell Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water quality improved and pollution sources were fixed or removed.
2/1/2011 Lower Chewonki Creek Wiscasset Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water meets approved standards seasonally.
1/5/2011 Naskeag Point Brooklin Restricted Approved Water quality improved.
12/20/2010 Broad Cove Cumberland Restricted Conditionally Approved Water quality improved and one pollution source was fixed.
12/15/2010 Mill Pond Phippsburg Prohibited Conditionally Approved Water quality improved and pollution source identified and fixed.
11/30/2010 Webhannet River Wells Prohibited Conditionally Approved Shoreline surveys updated and completed after old survey expired.
11/15/2010 Hutchins Cove Penobscot Restricted Approved Water quality improved.
* to read a newspaper article about how the community has responded to the classification upgrade in Quahog Bay, check out a February 17th article in The Times Record entitled “Cold hard cache.”

Shoreline Surveys: Determining Priorities for 2011

Shoreline surveys are critical in tracking pollution in all shellfish areas. DMR staff do this fieldwork in cooperation with the DEP and coastal town officials during the spring, summer and fall seasons. These surveys include going door-to-door on all property within 500 ft. of the shoreline and identifying any potential or actual pollution sources that could negatively impact shellfish areas. Currently, staff are in the process of writing up reports from 2010 and developing plans for what will be surveyed in the 2011 season.
Contact your local shellfish warden or DMR shellfish program staff to report potential pollution sources that could affect shellfish flats.

Will DMR Be Surveying In Your Town?

The DMR routinely surveys all areas along the Maine coast on a rotating 12 year cycle. Every year, the DMR will also survey priority areas. To identify priority areas, the DMR sends an annual letter in the fall to all coastal towns with municipal shellfish ordinances asking if there are any areas where staff should focus their fieldwork for the following year, based on local shellfish resource. For towns that reply, the DMR then communicates with the DEP to determine which areas have the most potential to benefit from shoreline surveys based on pollution remediation efforts. Once the snow and ice melt, DMR contacts those towns where shoreline survey work will take place and DMR staff head out into the field.

How are survey areas determined?

Find out more about what shoreline surveys look for and what happens if pollution sources are found, here.

Town Resources: Grants Available, Deadlines Coming Up!

Fixing pollution sources to clean up water quality and increase harvestable shellfish areas can be an expensive process for individuals and towns. The good news is that there are grants and loans available from a variety of state and federal sources that can be used to fund projects. Information about a few programs can be found below.

Funding for:
Who Can Apply:
Date Due
For More Information
Septic Systems
USDA Rural Development
503 Repair & Rehabilitation Grant Program
Year Round
more info here
USDA Rural Development
503 Repair & Rehabilitation Loan Program
Year Round
more info here
ME State Housing
Septic Loan Program
Year Round
more info here
Small Community Grant
more info here
ME Office of Community Development
CDBG- Housing Assistance Grant Program
Apply 2012
more info here
Community, Community Partnerships
ME Office of Community Development
CDBG- Community Planning Grant Program
more info here
Individuals, Local and Regional Governments
Overboard Discharge Replacement Grant Program
Year Round
more info here
Nonpoint Source Pollution
All Governments and Nonprofit Organizations
319 DEP Nonpoint Source Water Pollution Control Grant Program
more info here

Community: Working Together For Shellfish

Local shellfish management is dependent upon cooperation between members of the community, the town, regional and state government to be successful. The formation of regional partnerships that bring all of these groups together has become an asset to organize and coordinate efforts to address shellfish related issues that effect coastal towns. Each newsletter will highlight groups who have come together around the state at the local, regional and state level to address water quality and shellfish issues. If you are a partnership like this and would like to be featured or are interested in organizing a partnership in your watershed please contact Alison Sirois at the DMR, 633-9401.
Map of Kennebec River system The Kennebec Estuary Partnership
Shellfish areas in the Kennebec have been plagued by numerous sources of pollution that have caused frequent restrictions and closures across the area’s shellfish flats. Fed up with not being able to take advantage of their town’s resources, shellfish harvesters and local, regional, and state agencies in the area took the initiative to set up a partnership and face pollution problems as a united front. The group they formed, the Kennebec Estuary Partnership, is now in its third year. After collaborating to support two AmeriCorps volunteers who will spend this year working to help the Partnership reach its goals, they are successfully moving forward and tackling pollution problems so that shellfish flats can be reopened. Learn more about the Kennebec Estuary Partnership and some of their projects here.
Who are the Partners?
  • Soil & Water Conservation Districts
  • Land Trusts
  • Watershed Councils
  • Time and Tide
  • USDA Rural Development


  • Shellfish Committees
  • Shellfish Wardens
  • DMR
  • DEP
  • State Planning Office

Facts: Did You Know…...

Rainfall and Pollution:

April showers bring May
flowers… and the possibility of closures for shellfish harvest areas. Rain causes fecal coliform counts to spike in water surrounding shellfish flats across the state. Find out more about why areas are more polluted after rainfall here!

The Scoop on Fecal Coliform:

Yellow spots are fecal coliform colonies grown in laboratory from water sampleThe DMR Public Health Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program uses fecal coliform to indicate if water is clean enough for shellfish harvesting, but what is fecal coliform? Why is it a problem for shellfish? Where does it come from? How does the lab test for it? Learn more here!

Red Tide and PSP:

Red tide is a problem in Maine that can cause PSP, Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. When red tide is present, shellfish areas are closed to protect public health. What is Red Tide? How does it affect shellfish? Learn more about Red Tide here!

Upcoming events? Let us know about your event so we can publicize it here.

The Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program, also known as the Water Quality Program, is part of the Public Health Division of the Department of Marine Resources. The program monitors water quality and completes shoreline surveys to identify pollution sources that impact shellfish areas coastwide. Using fecal coliform as an indicator, water is tested year round throughout the entire coast and pollution sources are identified. Following federal guidelines used to maintain that shellfish harvested are safe to eat, staff classify shellfish resource areas as approved, conditionally approved, conditionally restricted, restricted, or prohibited based on public health.
Go to the Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program webpage here.

Newsletter prepared by Ruth Indrick, a Maine Conservation Corps AmeriCorps Environmental Educator with the Department of Marine Resources, Shellfish Growing Area Classification Program. For questions about the newsletter, email or call (207) 350-6897.

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