Paul Anderson, Director of the Maine Sea Grant College Program, recently announced that DEI’s Director of Research, Dr. Brian Beal, was awarded a two-year, $280,000 grant from the National Sea Grant Aquaculture Research Program to continue working with Arctic surfclams.  The proposal was titled: “Arctic surfclam (Mactromeris polynyma): a new candidate species to diversify and advance sustainable domestic aquaculture in Maine and the Northeast US.”  According to Beal, DEI first began culturing this species in 2009 with a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  That led to additional work from 2010-2013 that was funded by the National Science Foundation.  Most of the work to date has occurred at DEI (hatchery and nursery efforts) and in Washington County (field-based grow-out efforts).  The National Sea Grant College Program work will allow Dr. Beal and DEI staff to examine the fate and growth of cultured surfclam juveniles at 15 lower intertidal locations from Kittery to Lubec to determine if it is possible to grow this species to commercial sizes (1.5-2 inches).  Arctic surfclams are harvested commercially only in Maritime Canada where an annual, $60 million fishery exists.  That fishery concentrates on relatively large (4-6 inches) and old (20-40 year-old) animals that are hydraulically dredged from soft bottoms at depths from 50-150 feet below the surface of the ocean in a number of areas southeast of Halifax as well as around the Magdalen Islands.  Only the foot of the animal is sold, and that product is used in both sushi and sashimi dishes.  Work at DEI has discovered the potential for growing this species to a smaller size in the lower intertidal.  The goal of the research is to find suitable growout locations along the coast of Maine and examine several different methods to grow the cultured seed efficiently to commercial sizes.


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