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Maine May Pay Dearly for Red Tide

Biosecurity Economics +2 more

MAINE, US As nearly the entire Maine coast remains closed to shellfish harvesting because of red tide and flooding, a study by a University of Maine at Machias researcher suggests the economic toll could be enormous.

According to Sharon Kiley Mack, BangorDailyNews, the first closures of areas to shellfish harvesting were posted in southern Maine in early June, and on Friday, the state Department of Marine Resources hot line was reporting that all closures for red tide and flooding most of Maines coast remained in effect.

Marine experts have said the closures could last for months, possibly wiping out the states shellfish season, reports the news association.

The 2009 red tide has shattered records for intensity and geographic scope, leaving virtually the entirety of Maines shellfish beds, and the entire shellfish industry, shut down, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said in a press release Friday announcing the National Oceanic and Atmospherics Administration will dedicate $121,000 to research on the current outbreak.

A study by Kevin Athearn, associate professor of natural resource economics at the University of Maine at Machias, concluded in 2005 that a statewide, one-week August closure for soft-shell clams, mahogany quahogs and mussels would result in an estimated loss of $1.2 million in harvester sales and a total economic loss of $2.9 million for Maines economy.