Nantucket History: Collapse of the Quahog Industry by Amy Jenness

In 1913 an Edgartown fisherman named Sam Jackson was dragging for flounder around Tuckernuck Shoal when he discovered a massive bed of quahogs and forever changed the island’s shellfish industry. For centuries local fishermen had harvested large clams, also known as quahogs, as well as oysters and scallops. Prior to Jackson’s discovery, quahog fishermen rowed their dories into Nantucket and Madaket harbors and gathered the shellfish in shallow water using large tongs. A typical catch was three to four bushels a day. For 1912, industry analysts guessed that the Nantucket quahog industry brought in about $100,000. In June of that year the Inquirer & Mirror noted, “Fifty-eight boats were at work on the quahog beds in the harbor Wednesday morning. And with this little gold mine right in the harbor, within a mile or so from town, the Nantucket fishermen have been foolish enough to permit thousands of bushels of seed quahogs to be shipped to other places to grow and become a source of revenue!” That year fishermen were upset that thousands of quahog seed had been shipped to other tows to fortify clam beds there. Read the story here 09:26

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