ELLSWORTH — For Maine’s shellfish industry, it seems that Mother Nature frequently doth both giveth and taketh away, while the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) serves as her messenger.
Late last month, flooding brought on by torrential rainfall forced DMR Commissioner George Lapointe to close huge portions of the state’s shellfish flats to harvesting because of concerns about bacterial contamination. The affected area stretched from the Maine-New Hampshire border to Petit Manan Point in Steuben. The ban covered clams, quahogs, oysters and mussels.
Thanks to hard work by the staff of the department’s shellfish growing area classification program, which has laboratories in both Lamoine and Boothbay, and a patch of mercifully dry weather, DMR was able to reopen most of the closed area last Saturday, just 10 days after it was shut down. As of Tuesday of this week, with the exception of the uppermost part of Penobscot Bay and the Penobscot River, the only areas still closed because of the effects of the heavy rains were in the southwestern part of the state — a portion of the York River, around Biddeford and Biddeford Pool, and along the Kennebec and Sheepscot rivers.
For more maritime news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.