Shellfish provide a favorable environment for the coastal and estuarine waters in which they are grown. In turn, shellfish farming can provide local communities with a variety of ecosystem services, whose value can be quantified. The results of a University of Florida (UF) study conducted in 2015 examined three environmentally beneficial ecosystem services (water filtration, nitrogen removal and carbon storage) provided by clam farming. Measurements of harvest-sized clams at water temperatures found in Florida and their value estimates were determined.
Shellfish aquaculture also represents an economic opportunity in Florida as well as an opportunity for ecosystem restoration. Nitrogen (N) pollution is a serious threat to coastal ecosystem health. Shellfish can serve as N removal ‘hotspots’ by transferring nutrients in phytoplankton to sediments, resulting in denitrification, and N storage in shell and tissue. A project conducted by UF in 2022-23 quantifies the amount and monetary value of nitrogen removal services attributed to shellfish aquaculture, advancing payments for these services.
Photo Credits: Carlton Ward Jr, Steven Gray, and UF/IFAS