Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

July 17, 2015 14:40 ET

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Announces Increase to Arctic Surf Clam Total Allowable Catch

Process commences for new entrants

OTTAWA, CANADA--(Marketwired - July 17, 2015) - Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced today that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for offshore Arctic surf clam will increase from 38,756 tonnes to 52,655 tonnes on the Banquereau Bank and Grand Bank creating more jobs and economic activity in Atlantic Canada. The new TAC begins with the 2016 fishery.

With this increase in TAC, the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan provision for new entrants has been triggered and, as such, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is commencing a process to introduce a new entrant or new entrants to the fishery. This process includes consultation with the current licence holder, industry and First Nations and will conclude in the coming weeks. Licence holders will be required to engage in, and contribute to, the expansion of the science basis for enhanced management of this fishery, including costs.

This increased TAC will not only allow a new entrant or new entrants into the fishery, but it will also allow for additional access to additional quota for the existing quota holder in 2016.

To safeguard the sustainability of the fishery, departmental officials will also work with industry to establish a robust scientific program, as well as a rotational spatial management system for the fishery starting with the 2016 season. This approach was recommended by two independent expert analyses commissioned by the Department last year.

The Offshore Arctic surf clam fishery has been operating on the Scotian Shelf since 1986, and on the Grand Bank since 1989. The surf clam fishery is estimated to be worth over $60 million. The expansion of this fishery provides a significant economic opportunity for the Atlantic Canadian fishing industry and a better understanding of the fishery through enhanced science and stronger regulation.

Quick Facts

  • Arctic surf clam, or hokkigai, is a long-lived clam species distinguished by its bright red colour in the mantle and foot after cooking.
  • In the western Atlantic, this species occurs from the Strait of Belle Isle to Rhode Island. The oldest observed specimen found in Canadian waters was 92 years old on Banquereau Bank.
  • Though originally marketed as a competitor to "bar" clams, Arctic surf clam is now primarily used in sushi preparations in Japan, China, and South Korea.
  • Offshore surf clam licenses also allow the harvest of other species, including ocean quahogs, Northern propeller clams, and cockles.

Quotes

"Our Government is committed to ensuring the greatest possible economic return in the Atlantic fishery, while ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks. This expansion of the offshore Arctic surf clam fishery will lead to new and significant economic benefits for Atlantic Canada, as well as a better understanding of offshore clam species."

The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

BACKGROUNDER

The offshore Arctic surf clam fishery has been operating on the Scotian Shelf since 1986, and on the Grand Bank since 1989. What began as an exploratory fishery has developed into a major industry with annual sales of up to $60 million.

Surf clams are found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the western Atlantic, their range begins near the Strait of Belle Isle and extends south to Rhode Island. Surf clams live in ocean areas with sandy bottoms in which they can burrow, at depths from the intertidal zone to about 100 metres.

Arctic surf clams are long lived and slow growing. They can reach 170 mm across, and significant numbers of surf clams appear to reach 40 years of age. The oldest observed specimen found in Canadian waters was 92 years old on Banquereau Bank.

Popular in sushi

Arctic surf clams stand out by their bright red colour in the mantle and foot after cooking. They are popular in sushi preparations in Japan, China, and South Korea, where they are known as hokkigai.

The fishery has used large freezer processor vessels since 1992. There were three vessels active for most years, fishing on both Banquereau and Grand Bank.

Currently the fleet employs approximately 177 Atlantic Canadians, 60% of them in Newfoundland and 40% in Nova Scotia.

The combined total allowable catch (TAC) for Banquereau and Grand Bank has remained at just over 38,000 tonnes for several years, and landings have been consistent well below the TAC. The Department has conducted stock assessments in recent years on both Banquereau and Grand Bank that show signs of a healthy, sustainable population.

New opportunities

The decision to increase the TAC provides an opportunity for new participants in the fishery, as well as for new approaches to management of the resource.

To safeguard the sustainability of the fishery, the Department will work with industry to set up robust scientific monitoring to detect any signs of pressure on the stock, given increased harvesting activity. A new rotating spatial approach to management, starting in 2016, will help ensure that high-density beds are not being fished faster than they can recover. All participants will be required to help contribute to the cost of managing this fishery.

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Contact Information

  • Frank Stanek
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    613-990-7537

    Sophie Doucet
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    613-992-3474