EASTHAM — In the hierarchy of Cape Cod shellfish, the story of the clam is often forgotten in favor of the glamorous Wellfleet oyster. Across the country and the world, menus boast oysters hailing from the Outer Cape. Why not give the clam its moment in the sun?
PROVINCETOWN — A Barnstable Superior Court judge last month ordered the North Shore owner of a 70-foot sea clam boat to pay $7,500 in docking fees and obtain a permit from the local conservation commission before he can dredge for clams again in Provincetown.
Howard “Monte” Rome of Gloucester, owner of the F/V Tom Slaughter and the wholesale seafood company Intershell, must pay the Provincetown Public Pier Corp. for docking at Provincetown’s MacMillan Pier in 2014 and 2015 when he was using hydraulic dredging gear to harvest sea clams from a two-square-mile area inside a 40-foot “contour zone” off Herring Cove Beach.
Rather than pay his docking fees, Rome sued the town in 2015 after being served with a cease-and-desist order prohibiting him and three other fishing boat owners from conducting hydraulic dredging.
This type of clamming involves aiming 50 to 100 pounds of water pressure at the ocean floor to loosen the clams, a practice the conservation commission considers harmful to the sea floor environment. A 2007 town regulation requires hydraulic clammers to obtain permits from the town.
The three other clammers’ cases were resolved with similar outcomes. If they want to use this method of clamming, they must seek conservation commission permits, said Town Manager Alex Morse.
But the settlements leave unanswered questions.
It is unclear which government entity has jurisdiction over this kind of clamming in this particular place. The state Div. of Marine Fisheries (DMF) governs clamming, and towns regulate dredging activities that close to shore, said Dan McKiernan, director of the DMF.
“The judge felt both laws had standing, and I am not going to argue with the judge,” McKiernan said.
The court case offers no clear enforcement strategy, nor does it ban all hydraulic clammers.
Jamie Staniscia, chair of the Pier Corp., asked Greg Corbo, the KP Law attorney who represented the town in the case, to suggest enforcement methods. Corbo offered two possibilities. First, the town could identify the fishermen and then ban them from using MacMillan Pier. Or, in a two-step process, the harbormaster could allow those known to be doing hydraulic clamming to offload their clams once and tell them that if they do it again, they will have to prove they were outside the 40-foot contour or they would be banned from the pier.
Rome, who lived in Provincetown for 20 years before moving to Gloucester, said he will be applying for a conservation commission permit in January. But he said, the central issue of jurisdiction remains unresolved. “If all cities are allowed to take over state waters, I really don’t think that’s a good idea,” Rome said.
Tim Famulare, Provincetown’s environmental planner and conservation agent, said he could not talk about the Rome case until the judge signs the settlement agreement.
Morse told the select board on Dec. 13 that there are only 12 hydraulic dredging permits in the entire state and none in Provincetown, so he did not expect an onslaught of other boats coming to Herring Cove.
“Our hope is to work with the DMF to ban it altogether,” Morse said.
But it is not clear that such an approach would go anywhere. DMF Director McKiernan said he disagrees with the town’s assessment that using water pressure is actually dredging.
“We don’t think the Wetlands Protection Act meant for towns to regulate this,” McKiernan said.
AT THE LIBRARY
We asked Outer Cape school librarians for some good reads for next week’s school vacation. Their recommendations span preschool to grade nine — and there are some grown-ups will like, too. All of their picks are available at our town libraries through the CLAMS system.
From Susan Heinz of the Provincetown Schools, two favorites for older students:
I recommend The Crossover by Kwame Alexander for basketball enthusiasts who also enjoy rap culture and poetry. The book is organized by sections with basketball terminology that will feel familiar to the reader. (Grades 7-9)
El Deafo by Cece Bell is a graphic novel that tells the story of a young girl’s struggle with hearing loss. We all know how cruel middle school kids can be — just imagine wearing a noticeable hearing aid and struggling with speech and coordination. The graphic frames tell the story well, and it’s a quick, powerful read. (Grades 6-8)
From Abby Roderick, media specialist at Truro Central School:
A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis is about a penguin who yearns for something more in his world. Everything he sees is either black, blue, or white. He travels far from his friends to find something different. (PreK-K).
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is the story of Minli, who embarks on a quest to help her family change their fortune. The story includes fantasy elements such as dragons and is interwoven with legends Minli used to hear from her father. (Grades 3-5)
From Breigh Ann Menza, library media specialist at Eastham Elementary:
The Endling series by Katherine Applegate is perfect for readers who like animals and fantasy. It will take you to an enchanted forest world where brave humans and mythical animals unite to save a species from extinction. (Grades 3-6)
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall. The star of this 2019 Caldecott Medal winner is a working lighthouse. See how a lighthouse keeper and his family settle in. A sweet story with beautiful illustrations. (Grades K-5)
Katherine Harvey, the library media specialist at Nauset Regional Middle School, has a pick from her Book Bowl program:
Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs is the first book in the FunJungle series that stars Teddy Fitzroy, an animal sleuth who lives at a zoo along with his zoologist parents. Henry the hippo dies mysteriously. Only Teddy can solve the case. My students love this book.
AT THE LIBRARY
As a child my love of reading sent me into a wide range of book-related obsessions that oscillated from the common to the esoteric. The first and most enduring of these literary fixations was with Greek mythology, prompted by my discovery of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths in my elementary school’s library. Mesmerized by gods, goddesses, great heroes, and legendary beasts, I was drawn to the stories and the universal truths that lay beneath the fantastic events.
This love for mythology continued as I read and reread Homer’s The Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses and took courses in classical civilization during my undergraduate years. I even binge-read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series as an adult (and loved them!). With this background, I am mortified to say it wasn’t until last month that I finally read Madeline Miller’s acclaimed 2018 novel Circe.
Perhaps most remembered for her transformation of Odysseus’s men into swine in The Odyssey, Circe, the daughter of the Titan sun god Helios, is also known for her transformation of the nymph Scylla and, consequently, her skill in and knowledge of sorcery. In Miller’s novel, Circe follows these mythic plot points while also encountering a wide variety of other classical figures, including the Minotaur, Daedalus, Hermes, and Medea.
Instead of playing the typically auxiliary (though infamous) role in the male-dominated world of Greek gods and heroes, however, Circe is now given a commanding voice, real agency, compelling character growth, and the chance to be the hero in her own story. Circe navigates her path in a way that makes her relatable, inspiring, and captivating to a modern reader, while also providing a shocking ending to a previously well-known and thus predictable tale. With a powerful pantheon of characters, Miller delivers an engrossing, contemporary narrative that is both comfortably familiar and refreshingly subversive.
Looking for more retellings of classic Greek mythology? Check out some more of my favorites: Madeline Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles, and Margaret Atwood’s novella The Penelopiad. All of these titles and more are available at CLAMS libraries throughout the Cape, including Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, and Eastham.
Brittany Taylor is assistant director of the Provincetown Public Library.