Haida Gwaii’s Pacific razor clam fishery is now rated as “best choice” by a pair of major seafood sustainability programs.
One is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, which publishes regional pocket guides.
The other is the Safina Center’s Seafood Guide, which has been published online since 1998.
Both of the popular U.S. guides define “sustainable” seafood as wild or farmed food that can maintain or increase production in the long term without harming the affected ecosystem.
Peter Lantin, kil tlaats ‘gaa, welcomed the designation as a first for a fishery jointly managed by the Council of the Haida Nation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
“These clams have been harvested for millennia, and we’re happy to see a major scientific program recognize that our approach to sustainably managing the fishery is sound,” said Lantin in an Oct. 4 press release.
Started in 1924, Haida Gwaii’s North Beach is now home to the only commercial razor clam fishery in B.C.
From 2006 to 2015, the hand-caught catch has ranged from 44,000 to 440,900 lbs. per year, with an average of 245,150 lbs. This year’s harvest is expected to reach 416,000 lbs.
Co-managed by Haida Fisheries and DFO since 1994, the fishery sets a catch limit at 12.3 per cent of the forecast clam abundance.
The limit is reduced or the fishery stopped altogether if the forecast falls below certain thresholds.
Meanwhile, the razor clam fishery in Cook Inlet, Alaska, has an average catch of 338,100 lbs.
Unlike the Haida Gwaii fishery, nearly all the clams from Cook Inlet are sold for human consumption.
In the last few decades, most of Haida Gwaii’s commercial razor clam fishery has been used as crab bait. But in the last three years, it too has been marketed more and more as a food product.
Haida Wild, for example, now sells razor clams to restaurants and consumers across Canada and the U.S.