BRUNSWICK – Every day, when the tide goes out, clam diggers and worm diggers make their way to Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. For both — these mud flats are a lucrative source of income.
Unlike clam diggers — worm diggers are allowed to dig anywhere they want in Maine.
But in Brunswick clam diggers are trying to force the worm diggers out…
“They’re kind of stabbing the worm diggers in the back, trying to keep them out of areas, when it would actually benefit the area if we let them in there.” Doug Nottingham, Worm Digger
Clam Digger Justin Farmer says this is one of the best clam breeding grounds in Maine. There are millions of baby clams in here too small to harvest now. So the town took steps to protect them.
Brunswick’s Marine Resource Committee had closed these mud flats to clammers, hoping to reopen it a year from now when the young clams in here would be more mature. But they have no authority over the worm harvesters. So when the wormers kept raking here, they thought the only fair thing to do would be to reopen the mud flats to the clammers.
Deputy Marine Resource Officer Paul Plummer “They both got to make a living. We get that.”
Plummer admits this is a lousy solution. What he really wants is for Maine’s Department of Marine resources to keep everyone out of here. “If an area is closed for conservation, we believe that it needs to be closed for everybody.”
Plummer says worm diggers are killing clams before they can mature. “There was dead baby clams sitting on top of the mud.”
“So we know for a fact that they’re taking that top layer off when they harvest the green worm.” Justin Farmer, Clam Digger “They can do quite a bit of damage, especially if they end up digging in our seed beds.”
But worm diggers say the clam diggers do even more damage.
Worm digger Doug Nottingham “If the worm diggers were allowed to stay in there and turn that mud, the clams would have grown.” These mud flats are loaded with worms, and future clams, and neither side is backing down from this fight.