Low Cost, High Volume Hard Clam Farm

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $29,250.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2025
Grant Recipient: North Haven oyster Co.
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Adam Campbell
North Haven oyster Co.


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal summary:

    Aquaculture is on the rise. In the not-so distant future, regulation and population collapse in the current wild fishing industry will drastically change how Maine seafood is produced and consumed. Here in Maine, there are 3,478 miles of coastline, much of which is very well suited to shellfish farming. Hard clams, which are native to these waters, need to be further explored as a viable commercial shellfish crop. The issue with clam farming at the moment is that the systems are expensive and cumbersome to stock and restock through the nursery and harvest phases. The objective of this project is to trial a new gear method that is substantially more cost effective and is much easier to handle at large scale.  The key component to our method is a trawl-like linear tube mesh material planted in the muddy substrate, replacing the hard clam bags that are typically utilized (think 900' long sock rather than a string of pillowcases). We will document and analyze each step of the project and publish our findings on our website as we go. We will also utilize our social media platforms (mainly Instagram, which is currently the primary way for shellfish farmers to share information) to encourage discussion around our approach. The rapid growth of the aquaculture industry is also supporting numerous new publications where we will share our findings, as the community is eager for new systems and methods that utilize improved technologies.


    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to test a simplified and cost-effective approach to clam farming by building a low-cost, high volume hard clam farm, using inexpensive, off the shelf, non-custom gear. Added benefits also include:

    1. Farmers will be able to utilize unused portions of their lease, which are too muddy to grow other shellfish such as oysters and scallops.
    2. Farmers will be able to shorten the required nursery phase by planting the young clams out at 5mm rather than 15mm, saving on labor.
    3. Simplified equipment required for all operations of the clam farm, adding to simpler planting and harvesting methods. Farmers will also be able to keep track of stocking densities and total expected harvest rates with ease. 
    4. Significant reduction of initial gear investments required to grow clams at commercial scale, making it easier for aspiring farmers to enter the industry.
    5. Low visible impact, low carbon footprint and the obvious filtering capabilities of clams to clean the water, keeping local ecosystems healthy


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.