FREEPORT – The president of the Maine Clammers Association, who has questioned the need for an enforcement officer along Freeport’s clam flats, faces a fine of up to $1,000 on a charge of harvesting undersized clams.

Chad Coffin, 42, of Freeport, was charged with the offense early on the afternoon of Sunday, June 1, off Wolfe’s Neck State Park. Tom Kay, the town’s shellfish warden, apprehended Coffin with undersized quahogs, Police Chief Gerry Schofield said.

Schofield said Monday morning that Coffin has a court date of July 22 at West Bath Court, at 8:30 a.m.

Coffin said in an email Sunday that he would “finish some investigative work” before he commented on the summons.

Coffin has led the charge for a shellfish coordinator who would concentrate on resource protection, and has said publicly that Kay’s position, which is mostly about enforcement, is no longer required.

Schofield said that Kay allows clammers a little leeway in taking a few undersized clams, which have a legal minimum length of 2 inches. But there is no leeway for the quahog variety, the chief said.

“The legal size to keep quahogs is 1 inch,” Schofield said. “However, they are not measured end-to-end like a soft-shell clam. They are basically measured at the hinged area.”

The state law pertaining to quahogs does not allow any tolerances for undersized catches, Schofield said.

“Tom’s report states that this is a special rule . . . from the Department of Marine Resources Commissioner, which says that no one is allowed to harvest any quahogs under 1 inch,” Schofield said.

Schofield said that the incident between Coffin and Kay was uneventful and cordial, according to Kay.

The June 1 incident marked the second time that Kay has charged Coffin on the clam flats. Kay summonsed him in September 2010 for harvesting short clams, Schofield said. That case did not go to court, Schofield said.

– Larry Grard


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