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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Rheault’

According to Frank Carini at EcoRI, the humble quahog clam is keeping Rhode Island running. Carini waxed poetic about the quahog after a shellfish-focused event last fall meant to help the state manage its hardest-working resource more efficiently.

Speaker Bob Rheault “noted that the farming and harvesting of shellfish doesn’t require antibiotics and fertilizers. He referred to them as a healthy ‘super food,’ and called bivalves the ‘vacuum cleaners of our oceans.’ …

“The shellfish that inhabit Rhode Island waters are part of the Ocean State’s social and cultural fabric,” adds Carini, “and are integral pieces of a marine ecosystem that provides economic, employment, recreational and environmental benefits. …

“ Despite the obvious economic and environmental benefits provided by the state’s shellfish industry, it has long been, for the most part, operating as a collection of individual parts. …

“To get a better handle on the state’s shellfish industry and to make sure it remains sustainable, [several] agencies have invested more than a million dollars and teamed up with an array of individuals and organizations to develop the Rhode Island Shellfish Management Plan. … Quahoggers are collaborating with scientists to resolve some of the doubts about the biology of the resource. A cooperative study funded by the Southern New England Collaborative Research Initiative enrolls commercial quahoggers to pull bullrakes alongside the hydraulic clam dredge utilized by DEM to measure the density of quahogs on the bottom — a measurement that is then used to inform stock assessment calculations.”

Questions remain. “For example, should aquaculture be recognized as agriculture to clarify ownership and rights to harvest? What does Rhode Island gain in terms of economic value by restoring shellfish populations? How will restoration success be measured? …

“Among Rhode Island’s diverse collection of shellfish, the quahog is the most economically important resource harvested from Narragansett Bay. In fact, Ocean State quahogs once supported the largest outboard-motor fishing fleet in the world. But the price of quahogs hasn’t changed much over the years, making it increasingly difficult for quahoggers to stay in business.

“In Rhode Island, the state’s aquaculture industry, which is largely oysters, is approaching $3 million in annual sales. In fact, this sector of the local shellfish industry is one of the few growth industries in the state, growing by about 15 percent annually during the past decade.”

In 2013, “the number of farms in Rhode Island increased from 43 to 50, and oysters remained the top aquaculture product, with 4,303,886 sold for consumption, according to the CRMC’s 2012 report. …

“ ‘We have to understand the system to manage it and achieve the proper balance,’ [Coastal Resource Management Council] director Grover Fugate said. ‘We have to balance the uses while protecting the resource. We need to develop a better management regime, and because of climate change we will always be adjusting this regime.’ ”

More here.

This morning my two-year-old granddaughter woke up and told her parents she wanted clams. (But that’s another story.)

Photo: Wikimedia
Quahogs

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