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 vast majority of seafood consumed by Americans is imported. There is a great need to expand sustainable aquaculture in the U.S to increase food security and grow the economy. The goal of this project is to increase the supply, quality, and species diversity of domestic 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. Fishermen and other entrepreneurs will participate in field growth trials at the selected sites, and acquire skills related to the commercial production of Arctic surf clams for domestic markets.

National Sea Grant National Strategic Initiative Funds $227,434