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Clam Farming Growing in Virginia

US - Shellfish aquaculture is a green and thriving industry in Virginia, which impacts the states economy and environment.

"Clams and oysters are filter feeders and help reduce the amount of unwanted nutrients in the state's waterways," Mike Oesterling, agricultural specialist with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), told Lancaster Farming.

"We lease public grounds to raise clam. Clams sit and take water in, then filter out the nutrients and spit the water out.

"It's farming in the water. Clams are livestock."

As with any crop, hard clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) farming begins with seeds, Oesterling said.

Clams in Virginia are marketed as a live product. The Virginia clam industry, reportedly, leads the clam market in the east. Statistics from last year show that about 211 million individual Virginia clams were sold in 2007 with some 90 percent of them shipped to out of state customers. Lancaster Farming says.

The economic impact of shipping out of state is the outside money it brings into the Virginia economy, according to Oesterling.

View the Lancaster Farming story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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