Giant Clam Mariculture: the VISION of TMDC.
James Cook University in Townsville (Queensland, Australia) could do it on Orpheus island over twenty five years ago; there is no reason why this can not be repeated in other suitable island locations!
to see please visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR8fAdFYUNc
At the same time another research Institution the MMDC in Palau managed by G. Heslinga till 1995 also clearly demonstrated the feasibility of large scale commercial farming of Giant Clams destined to the Asian sea-food markets.
Unfortunately the now PMDC has somehow since lost the capability of producing clams and the farmers in Palau are facing a shortfall in supply caused by the new influx of tourists from mainland China enjoying clam dishes in the Palau hotel/restaurants.
The T.Gigas clams shown on the JCU video link above would be in high demand on the Chinese market, probably fetching a price of around $100.00 each. However they will need over 10 years to reach a harvest size and this is a too long period without income for any aquaculture enterprise to overcome.
However there is an alternative solution to this "conundrum" by starting first the production of T.Crocea/Maxima for the Japanese market, because these clams will take only 2.5 to 3 years to reach harvestable size, a delay very similar to oysters and mussels aquaculture in temperate zones.
Also, an entirely new market has recently been revealed in Hainan (China), where smaller clams are now a 'must' for wedding banquets.
This development opens the door for a shorter grow-out phase for the 2 largest clam species as marketing of these clams could now start in only 2.5 to 3 years, instead of the 10 years previously needed for the production of adductor muscles of these large clams.
Pacific island communities with suitable lagoon areas are therefore in a much better position to take advantage of the Hainan dried mantle market as a new hatchery will be able to supply them with large numbers of seed-clams at highly subsidized prices.
Part of the sales to the Chinese & Japanese markets can be utilized every year to also grow out some T.Gigas in protected nursery sites for close to 3 years before these can then be relocated without any protection and/or maintenance to suitable lagoon sites until harvest 7 - 8 years later for their adductor muscle, processed dry mantle meat and large shells for the handicraft industry.
The appetite for giant clams in Asia can be considered as almost unlimited; Dr Murakoshi estimated the potential market on mainland Japan at 500 million clams per year @ $2.50 - $3.00 each. In China, the middle class population is now more numerous than the entire population of the USA or Europe and their cultural traditions entice them to eat more expensive and exclusive sea-food products.
The potential Chinese market alone has been estimated by a recent market research to start at 5000 Tons per year with a value in the future of close to a billion dollars, enough for dozens of farms to start producing as soon as possible.
New critical discoveries resulting from the Yap 2014 breeding season research:
The latest spawning method I used always resulted in 100% viable eggs without any polyspermy. This because only clams with ripe eggs will spawn by this proven method.
My unique low-tech/high-density method overcomes the common pitfalls reported in the scientific literature such as: mass mortalities after fertilisation, at the trochophore stage and at the metamorphosis stage. With this ingenious but simple method these issues are drastically reduced for maximum survival without the use of antibiotics and/or drain-down.
My most important breakthrough is a new natural larval feeding method with no need for algal cultures that delivers close to 100% larval settling rate, as well as 100% zooxanthellae uptake by pediveligers during metamorphosis.
I also developed several new biological and mechanical ways to avoid fouling and mortality of small juvenile clams after settling; these resulted in faster than average growth rates, even at very high population densities.
These discoveries do allow large numbers of juvenile giant clam spat to be produced at commercially viable costs similar to the costs associated with oyster and other shellfish industries, at about 1 - 2 cts/each.
Plus my newly developed patent pending sub-surface floating modular nursery system is economical, fast and easy to assemble, versatile and long-lasting, low maintenance and most importantly it keeps the stock safe from natural predators and severe adverse weather conditions.
For the first time in aquaculture history, all known giant-clam farming hurdles have been overcome and the fundamental conditions are at last favorable for economically viable large scale mariculture of giant-clams for the aquarium industry and Asian sea-food markets.