Hard Clam Harvest

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       —
2010       — $4,974,044
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
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
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.

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.

Status

The hard clam harvest has more than tripled in the past decade, in part because some lobster fishermen have turned to clamming as lobster harvests have declined.   Recent Connecticut counts are not available (see data note below). New York counts have declined from 2007 to 2010. This is thought to be due in part to New York clammers harvesting other Long Island waters instead, including the Peconics and the South Shore. In New York, unlike Connecticut, the majority of oystermen and clammers do not lease their shellfish beds, so they go where they will find the most supply.

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Data Note

Since 2008 Connecticut shellfish harvesters did not report their harvest to the state because of a dispute over a possible tax on their harvest. Prior to 2004, harvest quantity for Connecticut was calculated in bushels.

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