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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Proper Digging Protects and Improves Soft Shell Clam Stocks

EVERYONE CAN HELP New Hampshire's clam resource by using proper digging methods. Careless digging and thoughtless actions by a digger may result in unnecessary breakage, exposure of clams to predators, and failure of dug clams to re-establish themselves in burrows. Careless digging can result in the mortality of up to 50% of the exposed unharvested clams. Most of these will be smaller clams that future clammers will rely on.

Proper Clam Digging is one way you can help protect and improve our Clam Stocks.

The following guidelines show you how to dig properly:

1. 1.

Select and cut a manageable section of flat on four sides.


Try to judge the location and depth of most clams of suitable size. Work fork into the flat with gentle rocking motion, adjusting angle of fork to move between and under the clam burrows.

3. 3.

Turn the piece of flat completely over and place it in the resulting furrow. Placing the piece to one side may needlessly cover an undug area where small clams vulnerable to smothering may exist.

4. 4.

Pick out the exposed clams that are of suitable size.

5. 5.

With fork tines straight downward, gently break up the section of flat to expose the remaining clams.

6. 6.

When all harvestable clams have been taken from the piece, simply leave it as it lies in the furrow. This protects the remaining clams from predators such as crabs and gulls. Clams not harvested will gradually return to an upright feeding position.

NH Fish & Game Logo Illustrations from UNH Cooperative Extension Service.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Marine Fisheries Division, 225 Main St., Durham, NH 03824 (603 668-1095

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire