FALMOUTH — The Shellfish Conservation Committee hasn’t met in well over a decade and now a push is on to merge the committee with the town’s Conservation Commission.

According to Town Manager Nathan Poore, the shellfish committee is only on the books because it’s a requirement in order for the town to have its own shellfish ordinance, which is designed to regulate who can receive a clamming license and where digging can take place.

Poore said it makes sense to merge the shellfish committee with the Conservation Commission because its duties mostly relate to conservation and preservation of the resource, as opposed to harbor management.

Town staff first began discussing merging the two volunteer boards several years ago, Poore said, but because it’s mostly a housekeeping issue it never became a priority until it was added to the Town Council’s 2020 work plan recently.

While Falmouth’s clamming flats have been mostly closed in recent years, there is still one area to the south of Town Landing that’s open for digging from Nov. 15 to April 30, Poore said. He added around 10 residents apply for and receive a shellfish license each year.

Councilor Jay Trickett, who is the official liaison to the Shellfish Conservation Committee, said this week that when the council discussed what to do about the defunct committee earlier this summer, there was initially some discussion about merging it with the Harbor/Waterfront Committee, but councilors eventually agreed that the Conservation Commission’s mission better aligns with the stated duties of the shellfish group.

When it was first created, Trickett said, the shellfish committee’s responsibilities included surveying the shellfish resources in town, establishing the number of annual shellfish licenses available and proposing any modifications to the shellfish ordinance.

He said it makes sense to shutter the shellfish committee because “most of Falmouth’s intertidal areas have been closed by the state for shellfish harvesting for quite some time, and there has been limited demand for licenses to harvest the remaining areas.”

Before officially merging the two groups, Trickett said “we’ll want to hear from members of the Conservation Commission and members of the general public to identify (any) issues that need to be considered. There may be some necessary tweaks to the ordinance establishing the shellfish committee, as well.”