The European clam Ruditapes decussatus is native to the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic coasts from the Iberian Peninsula up to the southern and western UK. Despite a relatively low production in Europe (8 200 tons/year; FAO, 2006), clams are a high value seafood product, economically important in many European countries (mainly Portugal, Italy and Spain). Indeed, the “carpet-shell clam”, as it is also known, is the key bivalve species in Portugal: the culture of this bivalve represents the largest sector of Portuguese molluscan mariculture with over 10 000 people directly or indirectly involved in its production.
Aquaculture in Portugal is greatly sustained by the culture of this species in the Ria Formosa Lagoon (South Portugal), where its production represents 34% of national aquaculture production and 80% of shellfish production (DGPA 2006). This clam is more commercially important and more appreciated by consumers than the introduced Manila clam, R. philippinarum. Culture of R. decussatus is clearly limited by the availability of seed. Its production is exclusively based on natural recruitment, which is subject to high annual fluctuations (Matias et al., 2009). Over the last few years, the productivity of the Ria Formosa Lagoon has clearly decreased due to recruitment failures. To address this situation, artificial spawning and larval rearing programs could provide an alternative source of seed.
During this project, IPIMAR will lead research on R. decussatus.
Next you are invited to watch an interview with “Augusto da Paz” President of the shellfish farmers association “Cooperativa formosa” talking about clam production and difficulties encountered by producers.