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This report is a qualitative analysis of the viability of establishing a market for aquaculture-grown quahogs (Mercenaria mercenaria) in the state of Maine. Our work is in conjunction with Manomet and the University of Maine Orono and is funded by the National Sea Grant Office. The aim of the project is to explore the barriers and opportunities of establishing such a market for farmed quahogs as a livelihood diversification strategy for Maine fisherman and aquaculturists.

Our research on the possibility of a regional quahog market relies on interviews with seven shellfish managers and four shellfish dealers from across the eastern seaboard. All interviews follow a prescribed set of questions provided by Manomet. The testimonies of shellfish managers and dealers provide a basis for qualitative coding, and our group categorized them according to environmental, human, and regulatory factors. Each of these subcategories contain numerous classifications of coded data populated with anywhere from one to five corroborating interviewees. We further classified these results as barriers and opportunities to the establishment of a farmed quahog market. These barriers and opportunities inform the recommendations for further study and aquacultural work.

Our results indicate that among the most prominent barriers to establishing a farmed quahog market are issues of siting and leasing for fisheries as storms and water temperatures. However, these climatic factors also provide the state of Maine with certain advantages that differ from those experienced by aquaculturists in other states. Furthermore, interviewees expressed the need to fill a gap in the seafood industry, affirming that farmed quahogs could expand and diversify fishing opportunities. None were opposed to a farmed quahog market, but all interest varied based on the perceived ability of such a market to be lucrative in comparison to the wild harvest.