BATH

Many of the 20 quahog harvesters at a Bath hearing on Wednesday say they oppose fishery limits being proposed by the Department of Marine Resources. DMR wants to prohibit harvesting quahogs in the New Meadows Lake area on weekends and between Dec. 31 to April 1.

The changes aim to reduce pressure on the resource and minimize mortality associated with winter fishing, according to the department.

Recent surveys conducted by the department allegedly show a decline in the quahog population. However, those reports were not available at the meeting or posted online, said Kohl Kanwit, director of public health for the DMR.

Kanwit said she would email the draft survey.

If approved, the Dec. 1 to April 1 closing would expire in April 2019, but the weekend closures would remain, according to department employees.

If the department’s advisory council approves the proposal on Nov. 8, the measures would take effect five days later.

Clammer Chris Stapleton said many fishermen make their living from quahogs in the winter.

“What about those guys?” he asked, adding that the lake will be crowded Monday through Friday with harvesters if weekend fishing is prohibited.

Harvester Jon Prior said while he understands the seasonal closure, limiting work to the weekday will hurt harvesters, especially if there is a rain overage that does not open up the area for fishing until a weekend. He said it could be potentially devastating if harvesters are unable to work for two weeks due to a combination of circumstances.

Ray Trombley of Casco Bay Shellfish, a clammer for 27 years, said he supports the measures.

“We need conservation,” he said, adding that he has noticed a decline in the population in the past decade. “It needs to rest. If we don’t stop now, we’ll destroy it,” he said.

Another harvester said that seven years ago a clammer could harvest 2,000-3,000 pounds a day. Today, clammers are lucky to get 1,200 pounds, he said, adding there has been an influx of harvesters.

“The quahogs aren’t there no more, that’s all I’ve got to say,” he said.

People can submit comments for the advisory council to consider until Oct. 16.

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