Surfclams and Ocean Quahogs
The Mid-Atlantic surf clam and ocean quahog fisheries exist from New England down to the Virginia coast. The two fisheries are managed under a single fishery management plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
With the exception of the Maine mahogany quahog fishery, the fishery has operated under an individual transferable quota (ITQ) management system since 1990. The principal gear used in the fishery is the hydraulic clam dredge, which uses jets of water to dislodge ocean quahogs and surfclams from sediments. Based on the most recent stock assessments, Atlantic surfclams and ocean quahogs are not overfished, and overfishing is not occurring.
Atlantic surfclams (Spisula solidissima) are distributed along the western North Atlantic Ocean from the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to Cape Hatteras. Surfclams occur in both the state territorial waters (≤ 3 mi from shore) and within the EEZ (3-200 miles from shore). Commercial concentrations are found primarily off New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula, and on Georges Bank.The maximum size of surfclams is about 22.5 cm (8.9 inches) shell length, but surfclams larger than 20 cm (7.9 inches) are rare. The maximum age exceeds 30 years and surfclams of 15-20 years of age are common in many areas. Atlantic surfclams are suspension feeders on phytoplankton, and use siphons which are extended above the surface of the substrate to pump in water. Predators of surfclams include certain species of crabs, sea stars, snails, and other crustaceans, as well as fish predators such cod and haddock.
Learn more about surfclams on the NOAA FishWatch website.
Ocean quahogs (Arctica islandica) are distributed in temperate and boreal waters on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. In the Northeast Atlantic, quahogs occur from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras from depths of about 8 to 400 meters. Ocean quahogs further north occur closer to shore. The US stock resource is almost entirely within the EEZ, outside of state waters, and at depths between 20 and 80 meters. Ocean quahogs burrow in a variety of substrates and are often associated with fine sand. Ocean quahogs are one of the longest-living, slowest growing marine bivalves in the world. Under normal circumstances, they live to more than 100 years old. Ocean quahogs have been aged in excess of 200 years.
Learn more about ocean quahogs on the NOAA FishWatch website.
Fishery Management Plan and Amendments
Fishery Performance Reports and Information Documents
The Council is seeking a contractor to conduct a Catch Share Program Review of the present and past social and economic conditions in the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries which are managed using individual transferrable quotas (ITQs). Proposal Submission Deadline: March 31, 2017.
April 1, 2016, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Cape Cod-Falmouth
NOAA Fisheries has published a notice of availability for Amendment 17 to the Mid-Atlantic Council's Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Comments will be accepted through April 25, 2016.
The following summary highlights actions taken and issues considered at the Council’s meeting on October 6 – 8, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is currently seeking SAW working group applicants for Monkfish, Black Sea Bass, Surfclam, Ocean Quahog, and Atlantic Mackerel. Application questionnaires are due by September 21, 2015 for black sea bass and September 30, 2015 for all other species.
The following summary highlights actions and issues considered at the Council's June 8-11 meeting in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Mid-Atlantic Council has approved the Cost Recovery Amendment to the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Fishery Management (FMP). The amendment addresses cost recovery requirements, streamlines the process for updating stock status determination criteria, and removes the optimum yield (OY) ranges specified in the FMP.
The Council has scheduled four hearings to be held January 12 - 15 for the public to provide comments on the Cost Recovery Amendment to the Surfclam and Ocean Quahog FMP. Written comments will also be accepted from December 15, 2014 until January 16, 2015.
The following summary highlights Council actions and issues considered at the October 2014 Council Meeting held in Philadelphia, PA on October 7-9.
NOAA Fisheries is suspending the minimum size limit for Atlantic surfclams for the 2015 fishing year. Quotas for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries will remain status quo for 2015.