Commercial Clams in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay

Clamming is prohibited in oyster sanctuaries established prior to September 2010 (Section I Oyster Sanctuaries), with the exception of the Chester River ORA Zone A sanctuary, where it is allowed. Clamming is allowed in oyster sanctuaries established in September 2010 (Section II Oyster Sanctuaries​). Rules regarding the distance from natural oyster bars, leased areas, submerged aquatic vegetation, and shorelines still apply when clamming in allowable sanctuaries.


​There are three clam species in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay that are or have been of commercial importance: the softshell clam, Mya arenaria, the stout razor clam, Tagelus plebeius, and the hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria. Another species found in Bay waters, the wedge clam, Rangia cuneata, has potential for commercial exploitation.

In this section, the focus is on softshell and stout razor clams. A brief description of the hard clam fishery in Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay is also included here. A complete description of hard clam life history and populations will be included in a future Shellfish Program Monitoring webpage that will focus on shellfish in Maryland's coastal bays. The wedge clam will be added to this section if and when it enters the commercial fishery.

More Information on Clams