Currently, shellfish aquaculture in New Jersey and other Atlantic states focuses almost solely on two species; the American Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and the Hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria). Culturing Atlantic surfclams (Spisula solidissima) is an opportunity for species diversification. Surfclams are not only native to the region, but also have biological characteristics such as fast growth (Munroe et al., 2013) and ease of spawning that make it a strong candidate for exploration as a new farm species.
In partnership with industry, faculty and staff at the AIC will test the feasibility of culturing surfclams in New Jersey. Specifically, they will test various strategies for hatchery culture conditions and nursery gear, and will identify timelines for farming the Atlantic surfclam. The project is motivated broadly by seafood sustainability because it offers an opportunity for local US Atlantic shellfish farmers to diversify their crops by growing a native clam species that is currently not part of their farm operations; diversification that helps in small business management and crop redundancy. Identification of optimal culture strategies and production timelines is an important first step in determining farm feasibility that will ultimately benefit shellfish farmers along the Mid-Atlantic coast by providing a new species for farm diversification.