Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

December 18, 2015 16:36 ET

Minister Tootoo Sets Arctic Surf Clam Total Allowable Catch

A review of science and further consultations will occur before a spatial management system and new entrants are considered

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 18, 2015) - The Honourable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Offshore Arctic surf clams will be set at 38,756 tonnes for 2016, which is the level it has been at for a number of years. Prior to any change in the TAC and any decision on new entrants, the Minister has asked for science work to be completed and work undertaken to consider a spatial management system, which has been recommended by two independent studies of the fishery.

Underscoring the Government of Canada's commitment to the precautionary principle, the Minister said that managing fisheries based on robust scientific evidence is a priority. He said further decisions about this fishery will not be taken until he is confident of its long-term sustainability and until further consultations could be held through the Surf Clam Advisory Committee, including input from the current licence holder, industry and indigenous groups about the possibility of new entrants into this fishery.

Minister Tootoo reiterated his commitment to support the economic development of coastal communities but said that the best way to do this is to ensure the long term sustainability of the resources on which they depend.

Quick Facts

  • The Offshore Arctic surf clam fishery has been operating on the Scotian Shelf since 1986, and on the Grand Banks since 1989. The landed value of the surf clam fishery is estimated to be worth $38 million. 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.


"The conservation of the resource is paramount. Further decisions in this fishery will not be taken until I am confident of its long-term sustainability. The Government of Canada is committed to science-based decision making."

The Honourable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Associated Link

• Backgrounder: Arctic Surf Clams


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