The potential of blood ark and ponderous ark aquaculture in Florida: results of spawning, larval rearing, nursery and growout trials
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The potential of blood ark and ponderous ark aquaculture in Florida: results of spawning, larval rearing, nursery and growout trials

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    Hard clam, Mercenaria mercenaria (Linnaeus, 1758), aquaculture has become a major industry throughout the southeastern United States, including the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida. From an industry that was virtually non-existent before the 1990s, Florida's hard clam farming industry sold 185 million hard clams to wholesale dealers, generating $19 million in producer revenues and an economic impact of $50 million in 2007 (Adams 2008). The growing and marketing of Florida farm-raised clams to wholesalers, restaurants, seafood shops, food service buyers, and direct retailing to consumers created a total impact which included $30.1 million in added revenue, $25 million in labor income, $3.7 million in property income (rentals, royalties, interest, etc.), $1.3 million in indirect business taxes, and 563 jobs (full and part-time). In spite of a fourteen-fold increase in clam production from 1991 to1999, dockside prices to the farmer remained fairly steady over the past decade. More recently, price declines associated with economic downturns have occurred after September 11, 2001 and in 2009. Although clam farming has developed into a major enterprise in Florida, diversification from a single species product could help stabilize and expand the molluscan shellfish aquaculture industry. The rapid recruitment of fishermen into shellfish aquaculture, along with exceptional growth rates associated with the productive, subtropical waters of Florida, has encouraged growers to seek information on other bivalve species that would provide crop diversification and augment profit potential. Species diversification may be one alternative to mediate losses associated with a monoculture-​based industry and to spread production risks. Native molluscan species which could be cultured and marketed along with hard clams are logical options.
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