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Aquaculture, Aquarium, and Fish Health

Health Surveillance of cultured Florida hard clams Mercenaria mercenaria

Baseline health monitoring of cultured stocks has proven to be an important management tool. In 2003, DFAS and SAEP faculty conducted a preliminary health assessment of cultured clams by examining samples from 3 growing areas in the state during the winter and summer. No serious disease-causing agents associated with clams were detected. However, there is a growing concern regarding the health of stocks as growers report crop losses during the summer months. Stressors such as high temperatures, poor water quality, or high stocking densities are typical concerns. A more thorough examination of stocks both prior, during, and after the problematic summer months is necessary to determine if environmental diseases or disease pathogens are present. This project conducts health surveys of cultured clams from lease areas and of hybrid stocks.

Site visits to clam hatcheries and a survey of hatchery protocols may reveal practices that are limiting seed production. Increasing shellfish seed production would increase industry growth. A minimum of four commercial hatcheries will be visited and their protocols reviewed with emphasis on water treatment, algae culture practices, and larvae and post-set culture practices. Health of larvae and post-set seed will be assessed. In addition, two workshops (one on each Florida coast) given by a nationally recognized hatchery/disease expert will review hatchery protocols and health of clam seed stocks will be conducted.