Photos of the Long Island Sound

Research & Monitoring

Status and Trends: LISS Environmental Indicators

Hard Clam Harvest

CT Bureau of Aquaculture & Laboratory Services, NYSDEC Shellfish Division (* No CT data 2011-2014)

CT Bureau of Aquaculture & Laboratory Services (* No CT data 2011-2014)

NYSDEC Shellfish Division

Economic Value (CT & NY)
CT NY
1990 $3,545,616   $5,108,563
1991 $3,827,000   $4,782,163
1992 $4,402,000   $4,828,004
1993 $6,309,400   $5,528,861
1994 $7,549,960   $6,088,885
1995 $1,306,425   $9,797,528
1996 $1,310,575   $7,859,533
1997 $8,667,648   $9,596,000
1998 $5,105,760   $8,434,128
1999 $6,500,000   $8,654,606
2000 $9,415,356   $6,973,345
2001 $9,929,575   $5,392,530
2002 $9,202,241   $5,123,159
2003 $10,469,996   $7,174,873
2004 $10,690,175   $7,358,698
2005 $16,120,029   $8,977,323
2006 $18,135,291   $9,139,395
2007 $20,530,982 $10,368,370
2008  $24,125,959   $9,305,892
2009  $18,000,000   $8,396,995
2010  $17,405,284   $4,974,044
2011   $4,359,916
2012   $6,693,675
2013 $11,431,801
2014 $10,599,026
2015 $10,529,243
CT Harvest (bags of clams)
1990 146,250
1991 154,026
1992 146,733
1993 157,735
1994 192,891
1995 52,257
1996 52,423
1997 241,768
1998 128,544
1999 130,000
2000 335,084
2001 281,811
2002 286,237
2003 336,502
2004 403,698
2005 420,529
2006 422,670
2007 489,648
2008 564,464
2009 489,294
2010 425,294
2011      —
2012      —
2013      —
2014      —
2015     –
Little Neck: 400 count bag. Top Neck: 200 count bag. Cherrystone: 150 count bag. Chowders: 100 count bag
NY Harvest (bushels of clams)
1990  67,510
1991  67,048
1992  68,792
1993  74,780
1994  80,528
1995 106,397
1996 102,873
1997 120,556
1998   92,778
1999 109,566
2000   76,903
2001   60,809
2002   52,982
2003   75,072
2004   77,322
2005   94,789
2006 102,318
2007 115,790
2008 104,151
2009    93,523
2010    77,462
2011    66,034
2012    90,881
2013 156,760
2014 154,205
2015 138,566
Little Neck: 600 count bushels. Top Neck: 200 count bushels. Cherrystone: 150 count bushels. Chowders: 100 count bushels

WHAT ARE HARD-SHELL CLAMS?

Hard-shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), a commercially important shellfish, are common in shallow and offshore waters of the entire East Coast of the United States. When they are small, they are known as “little necks” or “cherrystones” and may be eaten raw if taken from unpolluted waters. Larger clams or “quahogs” are eaten cooked.  The filter-feeding capacity of shellfish can help keep nearshore waters clean by controlling phytoplankton abundance in the water column.

In Connecticut, oysters and clams are harvested commercially by individuals and businesses that lease shellfish beds. In New York, with the exception of one lease in Oyster Bay, “baymen” can harvest shellfish at any approved waters with the proper permits, including state waters outside the Long Island Sound watershed.

WHAT DOES THIS INDICATE?

The annual harvest numbers for clams is an indicator of both clam abundance as well as the socioeconomic importance of this species to Long Island Sound.  Since harvest is only allowed in approved waters, this indicator is also an indirect reflection of water quality in the nearshore environment. This is particularly true in Connecticut where shell fishermen can only harvest on their own leased beds.

STATUS

The hard clam harvest  more than tripled in Connecticut in the first decade of the 21st century, in part because some lobster fishermen have turned to clamming as lobster harvests have declined. In New York, clam production increased by more than 70 percent from 2012 to 2013. There were likely many factors involved in the increase, including increased aquaculture production, and the reopening of shellfish beds in outer North Hempstead Harbor after a concerted local, state, and federal effort to improve water quality. From 2014 to 2015, hard clam harvest from station NS2 (Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor) increased due to an increase in aquaculture landings. There was also an increase in harvest from Western Long Island Sound (station LS1), but the cause is unknown.

DATA NOTE

In Connecticut, the largest cultivated acreage producer failed to report harvest statistics from 2008 to 2010. As a result, the overall average harvest growth rate was factored into the reported figures by the company  to obtain an estimate for 2009 and 2010 harvest numbers. However, no growth rate was factored for 2008 harvest numbers.

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