E-16 Arctic surf clam: A new candidate species to diversify and advance sustainable domestic aquaculture in Maine and the Northeast U.S.

Brian Beal
Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research & Education
University of Maine at Machias

The goal of this project is to increase the supply, quality, and species diversity of U.S. seafood through pilot and commercial-scale culture of Arctic surf clams. Arctic surf clams are bivalve mollusks with a delicious flavor and notable bright red foot making them a sought-after species for sushi restaurants around the world. Currently, most of the Arctic surf clam on the market (including that sold in the U.S.) is produced in Atlantic Canada. Arctic surf clams naturally occur from Rhode Island to Labrador. Populations in the Gulf of Maine exist but are not at commercially viable densities. 

This project involves an experimental examination of growth and survival of cultured juveniles at fifteen selected sites along the Maine coast with a concentration of sites in eastern Maine, where aquaculture development of the species has occurred over the past five years, and an assessment of human health and product safety by examining the interaction of this species with biotoxin uptake both in the field and laboratory. To date, three members of the shellfish industry have participated in field trials using cultured surf clam, addressing very basic growing and survival parameters related to various predator-exclusion treatments at 15 sites (2016-2017) and 5 sites (2017). Work is continuing in 2018 with support from a NOAA Saltonstall-Kennedy grant.

National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative Funds $227,434