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OpinionLetters

Letter: Clammers still rake LI’s waters

Mike Pember of Northport, a clammer for 35

Mike Pember of Northport, a clammer for 35 years, paddles to shore in Cold Spring Harbor after a day on the Long Island Sound on Jan. 8, 2013. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

“A toast to the baymen” [News, Sept. 4] ignores that there is a handful of senior citizens who still dig for clams all year long. While the decline in the clam population has reduced the amount of money they earn, it’s only one of the reasons they struggle to make a living.

Many clamming areas have been closed. These closings not only reduce the number of clams that can be harvested, but they also block natural shelters for clammers during inclement weather. Without access to shelter, the days when clamming is physically possible are fewer.

Additionally, the wholesale price paid to clammers has remained stagnant over decades. Usually when demand exceeds supply, the price rises. But this basic economic fact has not held true for Long Island clams. I wonder whether wholesale buyers have formed an alliance to keep prices consistently low.

While farmers are subsidized in difficult times, no such subsidy exists for clammers. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to use the $155,000 raised to seed the bay so today’s clammers can again earn a living, rather than use it for a statue?

Geri Olson, Babylon

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