Date of Award

Spring 6-9-2024

Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Michael Cox

Second Advisor

Karen Bieluch


This study investigates how the resource management strategies implemented by Maine’s different Municipal Shellfish Conservation Committees influences the motivation held by shellfish harvesters’ to participate in resource conservation activities. As soft shell clam landings are declining across Maine due to increasing predation and climate-related stress, there seems to be a disconnect in harvesters’ willingness to support the conservation activities that Shellfish Conservation Committees make available to them. In efforts to improve participation, town leadership in select regions have started to mandate the completion of annual conservation hours requirements. The diversity of policy approaches enacted by towns provides the unique opportunity to explore if these requirements are truly effective in maximizing harvester motivations to effectively participate in mudflat stewardship.

This research uses a mixed-methods approach, rooted in key informant interviews and a harvester survey, to evaluate how the imposition of conservation requirements and the composition of leadership on municipal shellfish committees influence the type and degree of motivation shellfish harvesters may show to participate in stewardship acts. Statistical analysis of the harvester survey suggests that the policy in towns with conservation requirements does not seem to diminish any existing, intrinsic motivations harvesters have to participate in conservation. Additionally, towns whose Shellfish Committees are made-up entirely of licensed harvesters were found to be positively correlated with harvester populations that express innate, intrinsic motivations to participate in conservation. These conclusions could be drawn upon in the future to advise plans for municipal-level shellfish management, as they provide support for the efficacy of requiring conservation hours and maximizing harvester participation on conservation committees.