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Mechanized clam harvesting for coastal British Columbia - Environmental implications



Due to certain economic and societal variables, BC shellfish farmers are finding it challenging to compete in the international shellfish marketplace. To increase their competitiveness, British Columbia (BC) shellfish farmers must find ways to increase their productivity while at the same time, reduce harvesting costs. For certain species, the use of a mechanical harvester has the potential to greatly reduce harvesting costs, therefore leading to increased profitability. In 2002, Chuckanut Shellfish, Inc. modified a mechanical tulip bulb harvester designed for greenhouse harvest to successfully harvest Manila clams in Samish Bay, Washington. This machine effectively reduced harvest labour costs to 3-5% of the farm gate . Approximately 1,600 metric tonnes of Manila clams (Venerupis philippinarum) are harvested annually from farms in BC (1,000 mt from the wild harvest). The traditional method of harvesting Manila clams is by hand using rakes with tines ranging from 10-15 cm in length. Even though this is the accepted method in BC, an environmental assessment of this method has not been conducted. A selection of literature on the environmental effects of mechanical harvesting does exist, though much of this literature is focused on different techniques and species in other areas of the world. This project will determine the potential near and far field effects of mechanical and hand harvesting, particularly with respect to the risks to valued habitat productivity, providing the scientific information necessary to the development of appropriate regulatory approval criteria for such activities.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2008 - 2010


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Kerra Hoyseth

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