Last updated on 29 January 2016

SUMMARY

SUMMARY

IDENTIFICATION

SCIENTIFIC NAME(s)

Spisula solidissima

SPECIES NAME(s)

Atlantic surf clam, Atlantic surfclam

Atlantic surfclam in the Northwest Atlantic (US) are assessed and managed as a single unit although their may be different stock structures in this unit {NEFSC 2013}.


ANALYSIS

Strengths

: Overfishing is not occurring in the stock. Biomass is well above the target. Fishing mortality is below the threshold. Compliance is good.

Weaknesses

: The recruitment is poor.

Options

: Improve method for modelling surfclam. Address a fully integrated stock assessment model including all available data. Reconsider the current biological reference points.

FISHSOURCE SCORES

Management Quality:

Management Strategy:

6

Managers Compliance:

10

Fishers Compliance:

10

Stock Health:

Current
Health:

10

Future Health:

10


RECOMMENDATIONS

CATCHERS & REGULATORS

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RETAILERS & SUPPLY CHAIN

1. This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for update/development, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.


FIPS

No related FIPs

CERTIFICATIONS

  • US Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog:

    MSC Certified

Fisheries

Within FishSource, the term "fishery" is used to indicate each unique combination of a flag country with a fishing gear, operating within a particular management unit, upon a resource. That resource may have a known biological stock structure and/or may be assessed at another level for practical or jurisdictional reasons. A fishery is the finest scale of resolution captured in FishSource profiles, as it is generally the scale at which sustainability can most fairly and practically be evaluated.

ASSESSMENT UNIT MANAGEMENT UNIT FLAG COUNTRY FISHING GEAR
NW Atlantic US Atlantic United States Hand dredges
Miscellaneous
Towed dredges

Analysis

OVERVIEW

Last updated on 29 January 2016

Strengths

: Overfishing is not occurring in the stock. Biomass is well above the target. Fishing mortality is below the threshold. Compliance is good.

Weaknesses

: The recruitment is poor.

Options

: Improve method for modelling surfclam. Address a fully integrated stock assessment model including all available data. Reconsider the current biological reference points.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Last updated on 28 June 2016

Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators

1. Please provide links to publicly available information on this fishery via the “Feedback” tab.
2. To apply to develop content for this profile register and log in and follow the links to “contribute to” / “edit this profile”. If you need more information, please use the “Contact Us” button above, and reference the full name of this profile.

Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain

1. This profile is not currently at the top of our priority list for update/development, and we can’t at this time provide an accurate prediction of when it will be developed. To speed up an evaluation of the sustainability status of non-prioritized fisheries we have initiated a program whereby industry can directly contract SFP-approved analysts to develop a FishSource profile on a fishery. More information on this External Contributor Program is available at http://www.sustainablefish.org/fisheries-information.

1.STOCK STATUS

STOCK ASSESSMENT

Last updated on 29 January 2016

Surfclam are managed and assessed as a single stock in the EEZ, while surfclams in New York and New Jersey state waters are managed and assessed by state agencies. The most recent Atlantic surfclam stock assessment was conducted in 2006 (NEFSC, 2007a; 2007b).

Data from the Northeast Fisheries Science Centre (NEFSC) triennial clam-dredge survey and landings and effort data from the fishery are used in the NW Atlantic surfclams stock assessment (NESFC, 2007b).

The KLAMZ model, which is a model that estimates mean density for the stock as a whole, is the primary assessment model used in the current and previous assessments. The model was applied to the entire stock area including the area of strata with no data and it has shown a slight tendency toward negative bias (NEFSC, 2007b).

The peer review panel agreed that the method for modelling surfclam could be improved (Jones, 2006). It noted that an age-structured model would be more informative and more appropriate because of the large quantity of age-data available for surfclam (Jones, 2006).

SCIENTIFIC ADVICE

Last updated on 29 January 2016

In 2004, the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) recommended its first series of quotas for 2005, 2006, and 2007 and continues to recommend multi-year quotas for the current year 2009 (MAFMC, 2008a). This recommendation provides reduced quota alternatives that the MAFMC may consider in light of the recent trend in landings per unit effort (MAFMC, 2008a).

The assessment assumes that the stock was at or near an equilibrium level in 1999 (NEFSC, 2007b). The current biomass reference points are based on that level. However, recent evidence suggests that the 1999 biomass level was temporary because of strong recruitment around that time (NEFSC, 2007a). The peer review panel agreed that this should be addressed in the next assessment and would be resolved by using a fully integrated stock assessment model including all available data (Jones, 2006).

Reference Points

Last updated on 29 Jan 2016

The most recent biological reference points are based on the stock equilibrium level and were adopted as part of Amendment 13 in 2003 (MAFMC, 2003). The values adopted are as follows:

FTarget = Not specified

FThreshold = FMSY = 0.15

BTarget = BMSY = ½ B1999 = 900,000 mt meats

BThreshold = ½ BMSY = 450,000 mt meats

CURRENT STATUS

Last updated on 29 January 2016

Based on the 2006 assessment, Atlantic surfclam in the EEZ is not overfished; the fishable biomass estimate for 2005 was 1.17 million mt meats, well above 900,000 mt (BTarget). Fishing mortality rate calculated for 2005 was 0.0192, well below the threshold of 0.15.Therefore, overfishing is not occurring on the stock.

Stock biomass has been declining since the 1990s, which has led to an increase in fishing mortality estimates. However, biomass estimates continue to be well above the biomass target (Jacobson and Weinberg, 2006). Recent fishing mortality estimates are nearly an order of magnitude below the threshold (NEFSC, 2007a).

Recruitment for the stock as a whole has declined in recent years and in most regions is at or near record low levels (NEFSC, 2007b). In particular, southern areas (i.e., waters off North Carolina and Virginia) have recently experienced declines in biomass because of poor recruitment and slow growth rates linked to warm water conditions (Jacobson and Weinberg, 2006). No evidence of strong year classes was seen in the 2005 NEFSC clam dredge survey (FEFSC, 2007a).

Trends

Last updated on 29 Jan 2016

Estimated biomass for the entire Atlantic surfclam stock started in 1981 at a time series low of 1.02 million mt of meat (NEFSC, 2007b). Biomass gradually increased to 1.29 million mt of meat in 1992. From 1992 to 1997, estimated biomass quickly increased to 1.84 million mt, a time series high. Since then until 2005, biomass has decreased to 1.17 million mt in the most recent year available.

The fishing mortality estimate for 1981 was 0.0173 increasing to a time series high of 0.0266 in 1984. Fishing mortality declined from 1984 to 1998 to a time series low of 0.0104. Since then fishing mortality increased until 2004 with a small drop to 0.0192 in 2005.

Total landings from the EEZ are available back to 1965 (NEFSC, 2007b). In 1965, reported landings were 15.0 thousand mt of meat. Landings dropped to a time series low of 6.4 thousand mt in 1970 before quickly increasing to a time series high of 33.8 thousand mt in 1974. Almost as quickly, reported landings dropped to 13.2 thousand mt in 1979. From 1983 through 2007 landings have remained relatively stable within the range of 18.0 to 25.0 thousand mt.

The trend in landings closely follows the trend in quota for the EEZ. The annual harvest quota was exceeded in six of the thirty years since the quotas were established in 1978 (1978, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, and 2001).

2.MANAGEMENT QUALITY

MANAGEMENT

Last updated on 29 January 2016

The MAFMC recommends annual Total Allowable Landings (TAL) that are projected to result in fishing mortality rates below the target (MAFMC, 1998; Jacobson and Weinberg, 2006). It has consistently done so for more than twenty years. The annual harvest quota is set at less than two percent of the estimated biomass.

Despite the declining trend in landings per unit effort (i.e., bushels per hour), the MAFMC chose to adopt the management alternative with the highest quota for 2009 at its June 2008 meeting (MAFMC, 2008b).

Recovery Plans

Last updated on 29 Jan 2016

Currently, no recovery plan is necessary because the stock is healthy based on the reference points in Section 2.1.

COMPLIANCE

Last updated on 29 January 2016

For the past twenty years, reported landings in the EEZ have been less than or equal to the annual quota (Jacobson and Weinberg, 2006). Over the past five years (2003-2007), approximately 8.4% of the federal quota has not been harvested (MAFMC, 2008a). The fleet of vessels participating in the Atlantic surfclam fishery is small making enforcement easier than most fisheries. An average of 33 vessels targeted surfclam from 2003 to 2007 for the entire federally-managed fishery (MAFMC, 2008a).

3.ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY

BYCATCH
ETP Species

Last updated on 29 January 2016

The range of Atlantic surfclam overlaps extensively with that of marine mammals and other protected species (MAFMC, 2003). However, Atlantic surfclams are benthic organisms harvested by hydraulic clam dredges. Marine mammals and sea turtles spend most of their time in the water column or close to the surface.The ITQ system established by Amendment 8 resulted in a significant reduction in the number of vessels in the fishery (MAFMC, 1988). With an annual average of 33 vessels fishing for Atlantic surfclam over the past five seasons, the threat to protected, endangered, or threatened species is minimal to nil (MAFMC, 2003).

Other Species

Last updated on 29 January 2016

The Atlantic surfclam fishery appears to be a very clean fishery. The 1997 NEFSC clam survey quantified all marine animals caught in addition to surfclam and ocean quahog. No fish were caught and the only other commercially important species, sea scallop, comprised less than 0.5% of the total catch (MAFMC, 2003).Commercial operations use more specialized gear to fish cleaner than the survey.Processors reduce payments to harvesters if species other than Atlantic surfclam are mixed in with the catch (MAFMC, 2003).

HABITAT

Last updated on 29 January 2016

The primary gear used in the Atlantic surfclam fishery is a hydraulic clam dredge. Most of the harvest comes from areas with sand bottoms (MAFMC, 2003). Hall et al., (1990) observed the effects of a commercial escalator dredge used to harvest razor clams. At a depth of 22 feet, the study area bottom type was fine sand. Forty days after dredging, trenches in the sand were no longer visible (accelerated by a series of winter storms) and there was no significant difference in species abundance (other than razor clams) between experimental and control plots (Hall et al., 1990). Meyer et al., (1981) studied the effects of a small (4 feet wide) hydraulic clam dredge in an area of unharvested surfclam abundance. The study area was 100 feet deep and had a bottom type of fine to medium sand covered with several inches of silt. Twenty-four hours later, trenches formed by the dredge were difficult to recognize and the abundance of benthic organisms appeared to return to normal (Meyer et al., 1981). It appears impacts of fishing for Atlantic surfclam is short term and minimal.

Marine Reserves

Last updated on 29 Jan 2016

Currently, there are no harvest closure areas to protect Atlantic surfclam or other marine species that might be affected by fishing for Atlantic surfclam.

FishSource Scores

MANAGEMENT QUALITY

As calculated for 2008 data.

The score is 6.0.

This measures the F at low biomass as a percentage of the F management target.

The F at low biomass is 0.150 (from management plan). The F management target is 0.150 .

The underlying F at low biomass/F management target for this index is 100%.

As calculated for 2010 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Set TAC as a percentage of the Advised TAC.

The Set TAC is 15.4 ('000 t). The Advised TAC is 15.4 ('000 t) .

The underlying Set TAC/Advised TAC for this index is 100%.

As calculated for 2010 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the Catch as a percentage of the Set TAC.

The Catch is 10.6 ('000 t). The Set TAC is 15.4 ('000 t) .

The underlying Catch/Set TAC for this index is 69.2%.

STOCK HEALTH:

As calculated for 2008 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the SSB as a percentage of the SSB40%.

The SSB is 878 ('000 t). The SSB40% is 272 ('000 t) .

The underlying SSB/SSB40% for this index is 323%.

As calculated for 2008 data.

The score is 10.0.

This measures the F as a percentage of the F management target.

The F is 0.0270 (age-averaged). The F management target is 0.150 .

The underlying F/F management target for this index is 18.0%.

To see data for biomass, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for catch and tac, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for fishing mortality, please view this site on a desktop.
No data available for recruitment
No data available for recruitment
To see data for management quality, please view this site on a desktop.
To see data for stock status, please view this site on a desktop.

Download Source Data

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Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs)

No related FIPs

Certifications

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

SELECT MSC

NAME

US Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog

STATUS

MSC Certified on 16 December 2016

SCORES

Principle Level Scores:

Principle Score
Principle 1 – Target Species - Surfclam 96.7
Principle 1 – Target Species - Ocean quahog 96.7
Principle 2 - Ecosystem - Surfclam 86.0
Principle 2 - Ecosystem - Ocean quahog 86.0
Principle 2 - Ecosystem - Surfclam 95.6
Principle 3 – Management System - Ocean quahog 95.6

Certification Type: Silver

Sources

Credits

Additional references:

  1. Hall, S., D. Basford, and M. Robertson. 1990. The impact of hydraulic dredging for razor clams Ensis sp. on an infaunal community. Netherlands Journal of Sea Research 27 (1): 119-125. http://md1.csa.com/partners/viewrecord.php?requester=gs&collection=ENV&recid=2512302&q=&uid=792994606&setcookie=yes
  2. Jacobson, L. and J. Weinberg. 2006. Status of Fishery Resources off the Northeastern U.S.: Atlantic Surfclam. NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, 8 p.http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/sos/spsyn/iv/surfclam/
  3. Jones, C.M. 2006, revised 2007. Summary Report for CIE: Stock Assessment Review of ocean quahogs, Atlantic surfclams, and the skate species complex. SARC Panelist Report, 64 p. http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/saw/Jones_SARC_44_summary_report-2-23revised-final.pdf
  4. MAFMC. 1988. Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan. Dover, DE.

  5. MAFMC. 1998. Amendment 12 to the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan. Dover, DE. 254 p. + appendices.

  6. MAFMC. 2003. Amendment 13 to the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan, Volume 1. Dover, DE. 344 p. + tables and figures.

  7. MAFMC. 2008a. Overview of the Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fisheries and Quota Considerations for 2009 and 2010. 66 p. http://www.mafmc.org/mid-atlantic/fmp/2009-10_Clam_Quota_Paper-2008-05-29_Mailout_Version_COMPLETE.pdf
  8. MAFMC. 2008b. Minutes from the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meeting, June 11-12, 2008. 218 p. http://www.mafmc.org/mid-atlantic/actions/2008/Council_Minutes_2008-06.pdf
  9. Meyer, T., R. Cooper and K. Pecci. 1981. The performance and environmental effects of a hydraulic clam dredge. Marine Fisheries Review 43(9): 14-22.http://spo.nmfs.noaa.gov/mfr439/mfr4392.pdf
  10. NEFSC. 2007b. Assessment of Atlantic Surfclam. 44th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (44th SAW). 44th SAW Assessment Report. NEFSC Ref. Doc. 07-10, 114 p. http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/publications/crd/crd0710/c.pdf
  11. Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). 2007a. Atlantic Surfclam Assessment Summary for 2006. 44th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (44th SAW). 44th SAW Assessment Summary Report. NEFSC Ref. Doc. 07-03, 15 p. http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/publications/crd/crd0703/c.pdf
  12. NEFSC. 2013. 56th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment (56th SAW) Assessment summary report. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 13-04.
References

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