Project VENUS Update

During the first year of Project VENUS (Vocational Education Network Using Sunrays), over 65% of the hatcheries in the state received broodstock and a small stipend to assist them in producing sunray venus clam seed. Excessive rainfall over the past winter and spring resulted in lower salinities and may have affected seed production. It is time, again, for commercial hatcheries to confirm their participation in the project for this upcoming year. In Cedar Key, 38 growers participated in workshops on seed handling, nursery and growout methods. Over 70% purchased seed and planted at a demonstration site, which was determined to have suitable soil properties for this bivalve. These workshops will be offered in 2015 to interested growers in other areas of the state. Other project opportunities in 2015 include 1) determining compatibility of existing leases and siting new leases for sunray venus culture by offering soil testing, 2) evaluating protocols used by shellfish processors for freezing sunray venus clams to assess product quality (e.g., shelf life, rancidity, sensory profile, etc.), and 3) educating consumers and seafood buyers about availability and attributes of sunray venus clams. Staff at the DACS Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing will accomplish the latter objective through creation and distribution of promotional materials and participation in a seafood trade show. The project goal is to provide the impetus needed for the shellfish aquaculture industry to advance the production and distribution of a promising new aquaculture species.

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