Harvest of Clams Continues to Dwindle in New England

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The harvest of soft-shell clams continues to dwindle in New England, where the shellfish are embedded in the culture as much as the tidal muck.

Soft-shell clams are also called “steamers” or “longnecks” and they are one of the northeastern U.S.’s most beloved seafood items. But the nationwide harvest fell to a little less than 2.8 million pounds in 2016, the lowest total since 2000.

Maine produces more of the clams than any other state. State regulators there say clam harvesters collected a little more than 1.4 million pounds of the shellfish last year.

That’s the lowest total since 1930, and less than half a typical haul in the early- and mid-1980s.

Challenges to the fishery include aging fishermen, harmful algal blooms and growing populations of predator species.

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