University of Maine Darling Marine Center researchers conducted shellfish population surveys in the Damariscotta River estuary in partnership with the Damariscotta-Newcastle Joint Shellfish Committee in 2019, an example of methods used to understand the status of wild shellfish populations. Courtesy of Jess Stumper

ORONO — Shellfish Focus Day of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum is an annual event that gathers shellfish harvesters, municipal officials, shellfish wardens, nonprofits groups, researchers and others together to talk about issues currently facing the shellfish industry and efforts to support shellfish fisheries in Maine. When the in-person forum was canceled for this year, a diverse group of volunteers came together to organize three webinar/radio programs as alternative venues to continue the important conversations typically had at Shellfish Focus Day. The first program of the series focused on municipal efforts to conserve and restore wild shellfish populations and intertidal mudflats.

The second program in the series, “What’s changing on the mudflats?: Collecting knowledge and data about changing clam flats,” will occur at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 18. Preregistration is not necessary. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, email sarah.risley1@maine.edu.

A recording of this event will be broadcast on WERU’s Coastal Conversations at 4 p.m. on March 26.

This event will feature a conversation among shellfish harvesters, researchers and shellfish marine resource committee members. The discussion will center around what harvesters are observing on the flats, and the various efforts to survey and monitor wild shellfish resources. Through informal conversations and stories, people who work on and study the flats will discuss the value of multiple forms of knowledge about the mudflats and how current efforts to understand changes in these environments can help support Maine’s wild shellfish industries.

Panelists for this event are observers and documenters of change on the mudflats. They include: Bailey Bowden, harvester, Penobscot; Nate Orff, harvester, Scarborough; Joanie Mcdonald, Shellfish Advisory Council member and harvester, George’s River; Kevin Oliver, harvester, Yarmouth; Denis Nault, Maine Department of Marine Resources; Marissa McMahan, Ph.D., Manomet; Sara Randall, Downeast Institute; and Sarah Risley, University of Maine Darling Marine Center. This program will be hosted by Natalie Springuel of Maine Sea Grant.

The first webinar event of the series, “Shellfish harvesting for the future: A conversation featuring stories and lessons learned in town shellfish conservation projects,” on Feb. 22 is available on the WERU Coastal Conversations website. The third and final program in April will address opportunities and issues in shellfish markets and supply chains.