Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2022


In light of climate change, coastal gentrification, localism, and discrepancies in shellfish regulatory structures, access to coastal shellfish harvesting areas has become increasingly complex for tribal communities throughout Maine. This report is a comprehensive analysis of municipal shellfish regulatory structures and their impact on limiting clam-harvesting access for indigneous peoples in coastal Maine. Our work is in tandem with Manomet and the Maine Shellfish Learning Network (MSLN) with the aim of accumulating historical and contemporary knowledge of regulations that govern access to coastal resources, with the understanding to apply that knowledge to help promote a more inclusive framework for coastal resource management. The bulk of our research is centered around an assessment of all 75 publicly available Municipal Shellfish Ordinances for towns in coastal Maine. Each ordinance, with varying information and terminology, was analyzed following a group-devised research criteria. The definition of what constitutes a “resident,” the licensing processes, the number of licenses available, license prices, and any mention of Quahog clams was carefully logged. All of this data was later incorporated into a compiled research document, wherein we developed a “Residency Restrictiveness Scale” to better classify the degree of restriction a town may present to non-residents interested in applying for either recreational or commercial shellfish permits. Our compiled research document, in conjunction with our Residency Restrictiveness Scale, illuminate both barriers to access for indigenous people and the lack of uniformity in the regulation of shellfish harvesting throughout coastal Maine. These deliverables also inform our recommendations for a restructuring of Maine’s shellfish regulatory framework. Our results indicate that the majority of coastal towns (34 municipalities) fall under a Grade B on the Residency Restrictiveness Scale, meaning that they require individuals to be a “resident” within a town’s domain for at least 3 months prior to applying. However, 12 towns required residency for over 12 months, classifying them as Grade D and thus highly restrictive. These findings evidence notable disparities in regulation among coastal towns and, when viewed in tandem with our review of Washington State’s tribal harvesting regulatory structure, further affirm the need to restructure the ways in which shellfish harvesting is regulated to better include the recreational, commercial, and cultural interests of tribal peoples.