Clam digging
Divers discover healthy clam beds near Broughton

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Nov 10/97) - A team of divers dove into the depths of Davis Strait this summer looking for clams.

It wasn't the first body of water the team has explored, but it was certainly one of the best.

"Drivers found it to be one of the best clam-producing around. Stocks are really healthy," said Eric Doig, a fisheries and wildlife officer in Broughton Island.

In some shallow areas there were between 500 and 800 clams per square metre.

"It's just another local resource people can access," he said.

"Another opportunity for people to make an extra couple of bucks."

To survey the clam population, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans set a quota of 5,000 kilograms this summer, to be harvested with divers and a clam dredge.

Of the quota, approximately 2,000 kilograms were harvested. More would have been retrieved if the temperatures had not turned cold.

Doig said that while the harvesting was taking place his department was checking out potential markets to sell the clams. But as fast as the clams were coming in they were being bought or eaten up by residents.

"They were sold right off the boat," he said.

The Broughton Hunters and Trappers Association was selling the clams for about $7 a kilogram.

The clam team wasn't looking to make a lot of money from the harvest, said Doig, just enough to recover the cost of the project.

The clam harvest, will remain in the experimental stage for three years.

Next year, if there's a quota of between 5,000 and 10,000 kilograms, the season will last about 30 days and seven people will be hired to sort, cut and package the clams.

If all goes well, next year the department does not plan to use the dredge so much.

They plan to put together a dive team of local residents to be trained to do future selective harvests.

"If managed properly it (clam harvesting) can go on forever and ever," said Doig.

After the three-year research phase, DFO will make a recommendation about a sustainable clam quota and perhaps harvest clams regularly and be a major distributer in the North.