Since 2000, Woods Hole Sea Grant has worked on various alternative species projects for marine aquaculture. Most recently, surf clams (Spisula solidissima) were added to the growing list of alternative species researched to help diversify the aquaculture industry. Local hatchery-produced surf clam seed were distributed to SE MA growers and an intensive planting experiment was established in Barnstable Harbor with the aid of the town’s natural resource department. Growth and survival were monitored from 2015 to present and early results show promise for this species as a desirable/marketable product.
Woods Hole Sea Grant staff visit participating shellfish farms to deliver seed, monitor procedures and collect data/samples. Results of these studies are disseminated and presented to growers as well as at public meetings and conferences. Additionally, data are used to inform grant proposals and engagement with other researchers.
For example, Woods Hole Sea Grant staff collaborated with the local shellfish hatchery (ARC) and Roger Williams University on a $105,245 grant proposal to the 2016 Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Research Program which was recently funded. The purpose is to demonstrate commercial viability of a new aquaculture product: the undersized (1.5″-2″) surf clam, marketed as “butter clam”. Investigators will determine the best location and conditions to commercially grow out surf clam seed, in order to provide wholesale and retail markets with “butter clams”. These activities include evaluating the best strategies with respect to temperature, sediment type, tidal height, containment equipment and predator control.