The Florida Sea Grant (FSG) program obtained a grant from NOAA to conduct a “rapid response” project to help stakeholders financially as a result of COVID-19. The Cedar Key Aquaculture Association (CKAA) managed the purchase and delivery of clams that were sited in the Indian River Lagoon by faculty with the UF Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience.
A cooperative research project purchased live excess aquacultured clams, some of which had “sized out” of the commercial market or would have died due to diminished sales from COVID-19 closures, in order to directly help growers and test the use of larger clams for habitat restoration and water quality improvement.
Clams were harvested from active lease sites in the Gulf of Mexico and delivered to Cedar Key for tumbling, counting and aggregation. Clams were then transported and sited on the east coast, in the Indian River Lagoon. The site is incorporated into this project for ongoing monitoring.
Clams were purchased and sited in September and October 2020.
See delivery schedule here.
In addition to adding to the market for hard clams and thereby helping clam growers, this project also allowed for testing the success of using larger and more genetically diverse clams to generate ecosystem services from restoration using clams. Since UF already has similar experiments in the Indian River Lagoon, the personnel, monitoring infrastructure, and public support already exists for tracking the progress of this project. And, sites were already approved for aquaculture and monitored no-take zones.
FSG worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) to obtain the list of Gulf Coast growers with active leases (i.e., met audit requirements for 2019) and contacted each leaseholder using the information provided to FDACS.
Eligible growers had an opportunity to apply to participate by completing an online form during the application period (i.e., noon September 12th through noon September 15th, 2020).
Need more information?
• Questions and comments can be sent to the project email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call Sandi Reveille at the Florida Sea Grant main office in Gainesville (352-392-5870).
• View the full proposal by clicking HERE