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Research Document - 2000/175

Harvesting Methuselah's clams-
Is the geoduck fishery sustainable, or just apparently so?

By Orensanz, J.M., Hilborn, R., Parma, A.M.


Geoducks (Panopea abrupta) are very large and very long-lived bivalves, with potential life-spans well beyond 100 years. Such long life-spans should be expected to confer great stability to these populations. We re-examine information about the ecology and dynamics of geoduck populations in Washington State and British Columbia, and explore the implications for stock assessment and management. We identify strengths and shortcomings of the two management systems, and highlight urgently needed information. Our analyses suggest a long-term trend of declining recruitment over a large spatial scale, so that recent recruitment could be 40-50% of that during the 1930's. Recommendations are provided to further investigate this apparent phenomenon and the potential role played by fishing activities.

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