Clam Research Projects Funded for 2014-15

An annual responsibility of the Aquaculture Review Council (ARC) is to evaluate and rank research projects that have been submitted to the Council through a formal solicitation process. The Council recommended 10 selected projects for funding consideration in the fiscal year 2014-15. Recently, the DACS Division of Aquaculture announced that the Governor included $755,820 in his budget to support these projects, which will enhance farm productivity, technology, job creation and sales. Two of these projects address research priorities identified by the Council for clam culture.

Evaluating the Efficacy of Several Net Coatings in Reducing Biofouling on Culture Gear and Increasing Hard Clam Production in Florida

Investigators: Leslie Sturmer, UF Cooperative Extension; Shirley Baker and Bill White, UF SFRC Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program; Kelly Grogan, UF Food and Resource Economics Department

Biofouling is a major impediment in all areas of aquaculture including shellfish aquaculture. By reducing biofouling, equipment maintenance may be lessened, equipment life extended, and stock performance enhanced. In a prior study conducted by members of the project team, the advantages of two biocide-free (non-toxic), foul-release net coatings on polyester netting were demonstrated. When compared to an industry standard coating and untreated netting, the performance of these coatings was encouraging and warrants further research of their application in hard clam aquaculture. The goal of the proposed work is to evaluate these net coatings and other foul-inhibiting coatings under commercial conditions to determine if biofouling on bottom bags can be reduced and, in turn, if hard clam production can be increased. This will be achieved by evaluating biocide-free, antifouling net coatings in commercial field trials at a minimum of three shellfish aquaculture leases areas in Florida, determining production performance of clams cultured in bags treated with net coatings versus untreated bags, assessing and comparing biofouling levels on culture bags, documenting the effort associated with bag maintenance (after harvest), and conducting a cost-benefit analysis. These results will allow clam growers to make informed decisions on incorporating antifouling net coatings into their management practices.

“Green” Clams: Assessing, Quantifying, and Promoting the Value of Ecosystems Services Provided by the Hard Clam Aquaculture Industry in Florida

Investigators: Leslie Sturmer, UF Cooperative Extension; Shirley Baker, UF SFRC Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program; Sherry Larkin and Kelly Grogan, UF Food and Resource Economics Department; Bill Walton, Auburn University (collaborator)

The goal of the project is to demonstrate the unique sustainability of the Florida shellfish aquaculture industry by quantifying the economic value of at least two environmental quality-oriented ecosystem services (nitrogen extraction and carbon storage) provided by clam farming. Research efforts will focus on assembling ecosystem service measurements and values specific to bivalve culture, identifying information gaps for hard clams, and translating information to Florida’s clam industry. Results will then be used to produce interactive, web-based tools and other materials for use in demonstrating the important contribution of hard clam culture to coastal ecosystem services. Findings on clam farm sustainability will benefit growers, wholesalers, and retailers by allowing them to demonstrate to buyers and consumers that shellfish aquaculture is comparatively benign and, in fact, provides ecosystem services. Consumers will benefit by being made aware of the environmental benefits of sustainable shellfish aquaculture. Estimates of nutrient mitigation and carbon storage may, in the future, be adopted as usable or saleable nitrogen and carbon credits, further benefiting clam growers.

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