Group Title: Bivalve bulletin
Title: Shellfish aquaculture
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 Material Information
Title: Shellfish aquaculture
Series Title: Bivalve bulletin
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Florida Shellfish Aquaculture Extension, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publisher: Florida Shellfish Aquaculture Extension, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Cedar Key, Fla.
Publication Date: October 2002
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090511
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Shellfish Aquaculture

Vol. VI No. III Published
October 2002 Co

Clam production in Florida has exceeded all expectations.
In less than a decade this emergent industry has gone from
producing less than 10 million clams a year to 150 million
clams last year. From a handful of growers, there are now
over 400 industry members in the state and the number of
individuals who enter this business continues to grow. A
number of spin-off businesses (hatcheries, bag suppliers,
wholesalers) have also developed in support of this
production. The economic "foot print" of the industry was
recently captured and estimated to have a $34 million impact
to the state's economy. Clam farming has become an
important agribusiness.
So it was bound to happen sooner or later....this year the
industry ran "head-on" into its first significant road block.
Dockside prices are down by 30% or more. Clams remain on
the bottom unsold. The problems encountered may be simply
a matter of supply and demand. Clams can be found
everywhere now, not just in Florida. Production is on the rise
in about every state along the Atlantic coast. This happens to
coincide with an economic recession. Since clams are
considered to be a luxury seafood item, demand is on the
downside. Is this just a temporary obstacle? Or is it time to
look to the future of this industry?
With that in mind, local growers associations are starting to
activate. Now is the time for regional groups to unite to face
common industry challenges. A forum is planned in Tampa
next month to introduce growers to several successful
agribusiness organizations (see page 3 for details). Further
development of local, state, and national markets for Florida
cultured clams needs to be achieved. Recent state funding
allocated to the Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture
Marketing in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services will allow for the initiation of a comprehensive
advertising and promotional campaign this year.
In addition, finding ways to reduce production costs and
increase production efficiency is needed to enhance
profitability for growers. Can a cheaper clam be produced?
The recently implemented CLAMMRS Project, in which "real
time" water quality monitoring stations have been deployed
at major growing areas throughout the state, will assist in this
effort. Reducing production risk by utilizing USDA crop
assistance programs developed over the past few years for
cultured clams, will allow growers to plan better for the

by the University of Florida / IFAS
operative Extension Services

uncertainties that
characterize farming.
Just as timely is the
need for awareness of
the importance of this
industry. Here's a few
examples of what some
communities are doing
in support of their
shellfish aquaculture-
based economy. In Septiembci. theli
City of Sebastian hosted its fiirt Clami
Bake. The weekend event held at ithii
Riverside Park attracted o\%ci I,.,, ""i .
people, all clamoring to consumeii 1
clams steamed, raw, in chold\ri. and
over pasta. At the 3 3rd Annual Seafood
Festival held in Cedar Key this month,
the newly formed aquaculture association served clams under
a banner proclaiming "We 're USA's #1 Producer of Farm
Raised Clams!" This boast is also proudly displayed on
roadway signs entering the island community.
Public exposure was also gained in the September issue of
Southern Living Magazine in an article entitled "Welcome to
Clamalot." The upcoming issue ofFlorida Monthly Magazine
will highlight clam recipes by Chef Tom Thomas with DACS.
In the national spotlight, over 5 pages of scrumptious clam
recipes were featured in the September issue of Gourmet
Attention to each of these factors (industry unification,
market expansion, optimizing production practices) is needed
to provide for sustainablility of the cultured clam industry,
which has so quickly grown to be an important source of
economic activity in Florida's coastal communities.

P 2 October 2002 Shellfish Aquaculture

Update on Crop Assistance
Programs for 2003

Pilot Crop Insurance Program
The pilot crop insurance program for cultured clams will
begin its fourth year of evaluation. Growers in Brevard,
Dixie, Levy, and Indian River Counties are eligible to
purchase federally subsidized insurance for unavoidable
crop damage. Regrettably the program can not be expanded
to other counties during the evaluation phase. According to
the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), 420 growers
participated in the program last year with crop liabilities
exceeding $25 million. The total number of claims filed and
payments made is not yet available for 2002. However, a
summary of business completed for 2001 indicated an
overall loss ratio (ratio of indemnity to premium) of 1.53
for participating states, Massachusetts, Virginia, South
Carolina, and Florida. The loss ratio, a means of evaluating
the validity of the program, was 2.16 for Florida in 2001.
Policy provisions and actuarial changes
Policy changes identified by industry, such as a proposed
nursery seed replant program, will not be tested this
upcoming year. It is likely the pilot program may be
extended to a fifth year so these provisions can be
evaluated. Survival rates are still 65% for clams planted in
nursery bags and 70% for clams planted in growout bags at
less than 1,200 per bag. For growout bags stocked at a
greater rate, a survival factor of 50% will be applied. If a
grower can provide production records for two years, those
records can be used to determine the survival factor. Price
values for nursery and growout clams have changed. Seed
clams in nursery bags will be valued at $0.0125; whereas
clams in growout bags will be valued at $0.11 (east coast)
and $0.10 (west coast). Contract information is posted on
the RMA's web site,
Important dates
The last date to purchase the policy for the 2003 crop year
is November 30, 2002. New growers, be aware it takes 15
days for the policy to attach after the application has been
submitted. For growers who were insured last year, this is
also the last date to renew, make changes in coverage
levels, or to cancel the policy. The 2003 crop year begins
on December 1. An inventory value report must be
submitted to the insurance agent by this date.
Crop insurance agents
For a list of agents who intend to sell the crop insurance
policy this year, contact the Shellfish Aquaculture
Extension Office. The RMA also maintains a list of crop
insurance providers at their web site,

Non-insured Assistance Program
For those growers ineligible for the pilot crop insurance
program as well as land-based nursery operators statewide, the
non-insured assistance program, or NAP, provides limited
compensation in the event of a natural disaster. This program,
administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA),
requires the grower to register annually and file an inventory
report with the county office. The last day to file for the 2003
crop year was September 30, 2002. A listing of county FSA
offices is available at their web site,
The FSA's state committee recently determined to use the
standards, or actuarials, established by RMA for both field
nursery and growout clams in crop year 2003. Further, the
committee adopted policy for seed clams in land-based
nurseries. Survival factors that will be applied include 53%
for >1.0 mm sieved seed, 75% for >1.2 mm sieved seed, and
90% for >2.2 mm sieved seed.

Status of Tumbling Clams
Harvested clams are typically washed prior to processing in
order to remove accumulated sand, debris, and shells. This
step is effectively accomplished by using a tumbler. Recent
clarification regarding tumbling activities came from the
DACS Division of Aquaculture, who regulates shellfish
harvesting activities in Florida. Clam tumbling may only
occur on the lease or at
a certified shellfish
wholesaler. In certain
areas of the state, where
harvesting is restricted
to a narrow time frame
due to tides or other
limitations, this creates
a "bottleneck" at the
processing plant.
Industry members
recently met with David
Heil in Cedar Key to
petition their objections
to the existing rule. A
proposal to license a
"land-based" washing
facility through the aquaculture certification program is
currently under review by the Division. In the proposal, the
certified facility would operate under best management
practices. BMPs could include routine microbiological testing
of the water source, shading, and operation under the existing
time-temperature matrix. For more information, contact David
Heil or Kal Knickerbocker with DACS at (850) 488-4033.

P 2 October 2002

Shellfish Aquaculture

The United States Department ofAgriculture Risk Management Agency A
recently announced grant funding ;li ,h their Targeted Commodity Partnerships UJJ
for Risk Management Education Programs for the Florida Clam Culture Industry.
These programs will be introduced at a

Clam Growers Forum
I-. -to be held

Friday, November 8, 2002
11:00 AM 2:00 PM
Hillsborough Community College, Dale Mabry Campus,
Student Services Building, Rooms 108-110
Tampa, Florida

Grant Overview: Organizational Structures and Strategies for Industry Development
Leslie Sturmer, University ofFlorida, Shellfish Aquaculture Extension Program
The Catfish Farmers of America, Mike McCall, Editor, Catfish Journal
The CFA represents the nation's largest fish farming industry, including farmers, processors, feed mills and
researchers. CFA has more than 1,000 members in over 20 states. The Catfish Institute, funded through feed mill
contributions, is the industry's marketing arm. The following topics will be discussed: a history of CFA, what can
be learned from the catfish industry experience, what works and what doesn't, why it is important to have a strong
producer organization, and competing in the market place verus competing against each other.
Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Chip Hinton, Executive Director
The FSGA is a voluntary organization that has over 90% of Florida strawberry growers as members. Growers pay
a 2-cent assessment per flat as dues through which growers are represented on a wide variety of issues and policies
working to keep strawberry production profitable in Florida. Member services include promotions, marketing
campaigns, research programs, lobbying, representation on regulatory issues, and more.
Florida Tropical Fish Farmers Association, David Boozer, Executive Director
The FTFFA was initiated in 1964 and is the largest organization of aquatic farmers in the state. The organization
operates a real purchasing coop. With revenues generated from shipping box commissions, dues, and the coop store,
the organization has assets approaching $1 million. This funds marketing, lobbying, research, and more.

Working Lunch: Introductions and discussions with representatives from clam growers associations

Grant Overview: Marketing Education for Florida Clam Farmers
John Easley, Florida Department ofAgriculture and Consumer Services,
Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Aiarketi ng
Preferences of potential national buyers for Florida farm-raised clams are to be identified and
characterized. The best approach to reach these buyers will be based on what is learned through focus
group meetings with each segment wholesaler, foodservice, retailer, and consumer. The means and
message content needed for the producer to positively influence purchasing decisions will be

This forum is a FREE educational workshop being held in conjunction with the
Florida Aquaculture Association Conference.

P 3 October 2002

Shellfish Aquaculture

P 4 October 2002 Shellfish Aquaculture

Southern Seed Stocks Banned for
Importation into Virginia

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted in
August to enact an emergency prohibition on the
importation of hatchery-reared clam seed from all states
south of Virginia for a period of 180 days. The ban is a
result of a study on QPX susceptibility in clams conducted
by researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.
During the three-year study, clam strains produced at
VIMS from brood stocks originating from Massachusetts,
New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina, and Florida were
grown at sites and evaluated for survival, growth,
condition, and QPX disease susceptibility. The southern
strains had significant higher prevalence of QPX and
higher mortality that the others. Virginia is advising their
growers to consider the geographic origin of clam seed as
a component of their QPX disease avoidance strategy. It
must be emphasized that southern stocks are not carriers of
the QPX disease. However, since these strains have never
been exposed to the disease, they are more vulnerable.
This ban impacts several hatcheries here in Florida
whose businesses include supplying seed to Virginia
growers. A representative from the DACS Division of
Aquaculture in a presentation to the VMRC stated Florida
seed suppliers are certified through the Division and
operate under the agency's Best Management Practices
program. Through these programs, specifically the bivalve
genetics BMP, hatcheries could use Virginia brood stocks
to comply with the prohibition. The VMRC denied any
consideration of brood stock source documentation
questioning the fallibility of a "paper trail." This decision
is even more disheartening after a successful workshop
was conducted in Charleston, SC earlier this year in which
representatives from the eastern United States gathered to
address responsible and reasonable guidelines for interstate
shellfish seed transport (see July 2002 Newsletter). This
prohibition sets a precedent with unforeseeable
repercussions to the shellfish aquaculture industry.

What is QPX?
QPX stands for Quahog Parasite Unknown. It is a
disease caused by a single-cell parasite that possesses
characteristics of both a fungus and an animal. QPX is
thought to be a species-specific disease where it is only
infectious and fatal to the hard clam. It is not thought to be
a threat to other shellfish and marine organisms. QPX is
not a threat to human health!
QPX was first documented in wild quahogs in Canada
during the 1950s where it was thought to be the primary
cause of a clam population collapse. Since that time, QPX

has been intermittently observed in Massachusetts and
New Jersey and has cause sporadic mortalities in both wild
and cultured stocks. More recently, the parasite was found
in stocks from both Virginia and New York. This year the
parasite caused extensive clam mortalities at several
farmsites along the Eastern Shore and halted relaying of
clams in Long Island Sound. QPX has not been identified
in Florida stocks!
The origin of QPX in waters is currently the subject of
scientific debate. Some believe that it is a recently
introduced organism and is spread throughout the range of
the clam when infected animals are transferred from one
location to another. Others suggest that the organisms is
routinely present in the sediment or water column in clam-
growing areas. In this case, the disease would not flare up
in clam populations until there was an extra environmental
stress or other factors where the individual clam is less
able to counteract the invasion of the parasite. QPX does
not originate in shellfish hatcheries or nurseries!
At present the life history of the QPX organism is not
known. Further, the infectious form of this organism is not
well understood. However, several symptoms have been
found in infected clams. Gross symptoms include
decreased new shell growth, swollen, tan-colored retracted
mantle edges, and occasional 2-5 mm round yellow-tan
nodules in the mantle tissues. Some diseased clams unearth
themselves and show mucus and sand granules between
the swollen mantle edges and shell edges. Microscopically,
clams harbor the parasite most commonly in the mantle
and gills. To date, QPX infected clams have exhibited a
high level of mortality. QPX-type symptoms have not
been observed in either farmed or wild Florida clams!
Source: QPX Fact Sheet. 2002. J.M. Hickey, D.F. Leavitt and R.
Smolowitz, Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center. 5 pp.

Health Assessment Program for
Cultured Clams in Florida

A health monitoring program for Florida cultured clams
will be established in 2003 through funding from the
USDA (see February 2002 Newsletter). In this program,
aquaculture veterinarians at UF/IFAS will develop
expertise with the clam industry and provide baseline
information on the presence and absence of important
shellfish pathogens in Florida waters. Educational
programs will also be delivered to increase awareness of
potential health problems.

P 4 October 2002

Shellfish Aquaculture

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