BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Marine Resources Committee hopes town councilors on Tuesday will approve its request to open clam flats for harvesting on Sundays — on an emergency basis — to allow commercial shellfish harvesters to take advantage of all of winter’s scarce daylight.

Councilor Suzan Wilson proposed the change, which if approved, would allow harvesting on Sundays from Oct. 16 to April 30 each year.

On Tuesday, the council will vote on approving the amendment on an emergency basis, which requires six votes of nine councilors to vote in favor. The council also will decide Tuesday whether to schedule a public hearing to consider enacting the amendment on a regular basis.

Clammers by law can only dig from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, which during the long winters means far fewer hours on the flats, Marine Resources Officer Dan Devereaux said Friday.

The timing of low tides can restrict those hours even further.

“If low tide is at 7 and the sun rises at 7:10, they can only dig so much (that day),” Devereaux said.

After inventory surveys completed by the town, he said, “ We have the resources available now, so it’s not such a huge deal.”

Approximately one-third of the town’s flats were closed in 2004 and 2005, Devereaux said, but in the last several years, intense efforts to address failing septic systems, among other pollution sources, have allowed areas including the “Bullpen” — in Woodward Cove — and more of Maquoit Bay to reopen.

In 2007, the town opened flats to Sunday harvesting during the summer because the price of clams increased and that allowed harvesters to make more money, but Devereaux said “that generated more complaints from summer residents” who live near the ocean.

By allowing Sunday harvesting in the winter, “We’re trying to balance their interests and the clammers’ interests,” Devereaux told The Times Record.

Currently, flats have been closed on Sundays for about a year, “and we’re at the point where incomes are down,” he said. “This would give them one extra day — probably four extra hours.”

The Town Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Brunswick Station.

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