Maine shellfish dealers can now promote their product with the red, white and blue State of Maine Quality trademark, used for decades to identify other Maine agricultural and natural resource products, thanks to a recent rule modification by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

The Quality Maine symbol may now be used by shellfish dealers in advertising or packaging materials to market mussels, clams or oysters that have been harvested exclusively in Maine.

Licensed users must have a product recall procedure, must be compliant with applicable federal and state regulations, and must hold a current and valid Shellfish Sanitation Certificate issued by the Department of Marine Resources. Licensed users must also make health inspection records from DMR available for review, and must allow DACF staff to inspect and analyze all product labeled with the Quality Maine trademark.

The idea to establish standards for the shellfish industry came from the Department of Marine Resources Shellfish Advisory Council. Council Chair Lewis Pinkham says, “We’ve seen other industries like lobster use a seal of approval such as the Marine Stewardship Council’s certification to help their marketing efforts. We looked at all sorts of avenues to help tell customers that [the shellfish] industry is sustainable and meets the highest standards, and it turned out that the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry had it in place.”

To use the symbol, shellfish dealers must complete a license application, available at www.maine.gov/dacf/qar/permits_and_licenses. Renewal of the license to use the Quality Maine Trademark is contingent on the applicant having been compliant with the DACF regulation that establishes the standards for its use.