Baby quahog clams like these are grown in a nursery at Mere Point in Brunswick. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record file photo

Brunswick is Maine’s biggest producer of quahog clams, and town officials hope to use new technology to help them grow faster as the shellfish face threats from warming waters.

The town recently applied for a $15,000 state grant to help pay for a $19,000 upweller nursery off Gurnet Road near the Harpswell border. The grant would come from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and require approval from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The town currently operates a floating quahog nursery at Mere Point where the clams are grown in cages. Upwellers consistently pump water under the clams, helping them grow faster, according to Dan Devereaux, the town’s coastal resources manager.

“It’s a lot better return on our investment,” Devereaux told the council Monday night.

The town buys several hundred thousand baby quahogs each year that start out about the size of the tip of a pen. The floating nursery gets about 30% of the clams up to size in a growing season so they can be planted in tidal waters to grow and be harvested, while upwellers should get about 70% of them up to size in the same season, according to Devereaux.

He called the project “overdue” as the town’s shellfish stock has been threatened with record warmth in Casco Bay that attracts more predators, such as crabs.


“Each year, we’re trying to supplement Mother Nature’s stock as it continues to dwindle,” Devereaux said. “(An upweller) gives us an opportunity to grow these clams out more than we have been doing and make them more resilient to predators and other things when we put them into the mud flats.

“This could really help.”

Town Manager John Eldridge agreed.

“This could be a real big deal if it’s as successful as we hope it will be,” Eldridge said.

Brunswick has about 1,600 acres of intertidal shellfish growing along 61 miles of coastline, according to the coastal resources office. It currently licenses about 60 commercial shellfish harvesters, 15 student commercial harvesters and hundreds of recreational harvesters.

Comments are not available on this story.