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Monday March 19, 2018


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Clam Rustlers Return To Rocky Hill

During this past June, a dog walker in the Rocky Hill Green Acres noted several bags laying alongside the pathway near the chain fence. The bags turned out to be full of small, freshwater clams, harvested unlawfully from the nearby Millstone River. Nearby lay a rolled up set of waders. A few days later, whoever it was had returned for more clams, only this time, it was with a crew of four men in a car with New York plates. They quickly loaded their car and scarpered. Rocky Hill Borough Councilman Billy Dawson was notified and he contacted the NJ Park authorities.

The clam rustlers returned again on October 3, only now it was clearly more of a wholesale operation. This time there were eight bags full, each weighing about 15 or 20 pounds. Passersby noted a single man, about 40 years old lurking in the woods, who proved remarkably shy. As the residents were in contact with a Park ranger, a car with NY plates drove up into the Greenacres, onto the pedestrian pathway, and after loading his passenger and clams, rapidly reversed, nearly striking this reporter.

Councilman Dawson said, "The NJ DEP passed the license plate number to the NY Dept. of Conservation and their officers have power to issue tickets on the other end. I was told they aggressively pursue this to make sure the clams don't end up in the food chain."

The freshwater clams from the Millstone River are no bigger than the joint on the end of your thumb, but resemble salt water clams in every way. Presumably, if left to nature they grow as big as the empty shells laying in the mud along the creek, which are nearly the size of salt water clams. Freshwater clams filter nutrients from water, and also help clean it. However, these are notably contaminated by sewage, industrial wastes, landscaping and farm chemistry and other pollutants, and should never be consumed by humans.

A source at DEP said that any commercial harvest is for a New York market that is, let's say, less discriminating, and have probably already been sold. Better lay off the clams casino for a few months.
Should see someone clamming in the Millstone, or taking bags of clams, please report it to the Borough Constable or try calling the Parks investigator at 609-468-1711.
So far, no arrests have been made. 

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