Tag: All Clams on Deck

Anna Maria Island

ACOD – Manatee County $500K Grant

On Tuesday, August 9, 2022, Ed Chiles, Founding Member of All Clams On Deck & Gulf Shellfish Institute Board of Directors Vice President, presented to the Manatee County Commissioners. He invited Manatee County to join the State of Florida in providing global leadership in protecting our environment and strengthening our economy.  Ed explained that Manatee County could lead the way by providing matching funds of $500,000 to the $2.5 million appropriated from the State of Florida to restore estuaries, grow coastal economies and make our waters resilient and sustainable for all our futures.

Dr. Stephen Hesterberg, Executive Director, Gulf Shellfish Institute, provided a letter of support for the request and spoke at the meeting.  He is quoted as saying GSI is about to embark upon a large-scale research initiative to co-restore bivalves and seagrass, which will directly restore habitat, support coastal economies, and allow scientists to address existing data gaps.  Please consider appropriating $500,000 for marine ecosystem restoration and making Manatee County the epicenter of seagrass recovery rather than loss.

Upon completion of the presentation, the Manatee Board of County Commissioners approved the $500,000 grant with a unanimous vote.  The Commission is to be commended for its support of this effort and for being “on board” early with the oyster restoration project in the Manatee River & the oyster recycling and renewal project (GCORR). 

Over the next few months, presentations will be made to cities and counties surrounding the three national estuaries. Each will be asked to lend financial support to this Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative by providing matching funds to the $2.5 million State appropriation.  

Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

PRESS RELEASE: Florida Provides Global Leadership for Coastal Restoration With Seagrass & Clams

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   
July 13, 2022           

Press Contact: Dr. David Randle
Phone 727-479-4767
Email: daverandle@mac.com

The State of Florida has provided global leadership for protecting our environment and strengthening our economy. On June 5, the 2022-2023 budget was signed into law, securing funding that will lead the way in restoring estuaries and growing coastal economies. Thanks to the leadership from Governor Ron DeSantis, State Senator Jim Boyd, and State Representative Will Robinson, $2.5 million has been appropriated to support sustainability and resilience.

The funding will kickstart a five year research and restoration initiative in the only place in the nation that shares a border with three estuaries of national significance, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor and Sarasota Bay. This project will provide for large-scale plantings of clams and seagrass, which will support local businesses and create a natural “macro-laboratory” that will allow researchers to evaluate natural biological mitigation strategies to combat nutrient loading and improve water quality. These estuaries are cradles of the Gulf, providing critical nursery habitat to commercially and recreationally important species and supporting billions of dollars in fisheries and tourism every year. Restoring and maintaining healthy water in these systems is key to community wellbeing and economic success.

This proof-of-concept project combines science, environment and economy to enhance estuary resiliency through large scale restoration of seagrass and clam populations. Efforts will be guided by research scientists, implemented by industry specialists, and advised and monitored by an external advisory panel of experts throughout the process. This small investment in our future will yield high returns, promoting resilience of our coastal ecosystems, providing jobs and protecting the heritage of working waterfronts. It will also create room for bivalve shellfish aquaculture – one of the greenest agricultural products around – to expand.

Clams equal clean water. Cleaner water allows more light to filter through the water column which promotes photosynthesis and encourages seagrass growth. Clams, like seagrass, can stabilize sediments and provide habitat for other organisms. Together, clams and seagrass form a vital part of the marine environment that is critical to thousands of other marine organisms, including the Florida manatee (whose diet depends seagrass.)

Dr. Angela Collins, Florida Sea Grant Agent, UF/IFAS Extension and Marine Extension Advisor to the Gulf Shellfish Institute says this: “This project will allow for a large-scale research initiative that utilizes industry expertise, supports local economies, and can provide scientists the opportunity to address existing data gaps in situ. It is exciting to see this synergy between industry, researchers and resource managers, and we are hopeful this work provides the

groundwork necessary to better quantify site-specific environmental benefits and guide future efforts.

Led by the Gulf Shellfish Institute and its recent program All Clams On Deck, with support of several members of the Blue Community Consortium, and guidance from multiple businesses, management agencies, universities, and NGOs, this project will prioritize research that can quantify environmental benefits and solidify best practices that maximize the contributions of restored clams and seagrass to our coastal ecosystems. This proof-of-concept will provide the data that are necessary for efforts like these to expand throughout Florida and beyond.

Momentum is building already, with efforts underway to include all of the cities and counties that border the three targeted national estuaries to ask them to join this initiative with matching funds. Are you interesting in joining this mission? If so you are invited to join the efforts by signing up on the All Clams On Deck website (https://www.allclamsondeck.org.)

As the project confirms this methodology of combining clams and Clemson seagrass restoration for enhancing our marine environment, it will expand throughout Florida. The project has already begun efforts to include all of the cities and counties that border the three national estuaries to ask them to join us with matching funds for this effort. The project invites you to join the efforts by signing up on the All Clams On Deck website (https:// www.allclamsondeck.org.)

Ed Chiles one of the founders of this project and the Vice President of the Gulf Shellfish Institute in reflecting on the importance of this project sums it up well when he states “Water quality issues are what keeps me up at night. We have to be better stewards of these critical coastal estuaries. Our grandchildren deserve nothing less.

The mission of the Gulf Shellfish Institute is to facilitate, support and encourage increased production of shellfish in Florida and the Gulf region for both economic and environmental benefit through cooperative, industry-driven research and outreach. Increasing shellfish production via aquaculture will not only support the environment by the ecosystem services it provides, but also the economy through resilient, working waterfronts, and cultural heritage tied to Gulf seafood for generations to come.


All Clams

All Clams on Deck – For Dinner!

Shellfish aquaculture is a growing industry in Florida and provides one of the greenest agricultural products around!

Bivalve shellfish (e.g., clams and oysters) are a heart healthy food1, and provide a nutrient rich, low-calorie meat option2. They are an excellent source of protein and are high in iron, calcium and vitamin B. Clams are also loaded with Omega-3s1,2, which are essential building blocks for a healthy body.

By their simple acts of eating and growing, clams remove nitrogen, sequester atmospheric carbon and increase water clarity. We already know that shellfish farms have been linked to improved water conditions in many coastal systems3…so eating clams is not only good for you – it’s good for the planet, too!

Based on work done by Baker et al. (2015), a single clam can filter 4.5 gallons of seawater per day, sequester 2.76 g of atmospheric carbon, and remove 0.09 g nitrogen (through incorporation into tissues, and when animals are harvested, that nitrogen is removed from the water). In 2012, estimated shellfish aquaculture production in Florida was 136 million clams. That year, the ecosystem services4 provided by those harvested clams included:

  • 544 million gallons of seawater filtered
  • 25,400 lbs of nitrogen removed
  • 760,600 lbs carbon stored

Seafood is synonymous with a good Florida meal, and many local reputable restaurants offer a variety of delicious shellfish options. But did you know that you can also cook your clams at home? A lot of people tell me that they don’t know how to prepare clams – which is just crazy! Florida Sea Grant Seafood at your Fingertips promotes tasty, sustainable, easy recipes that anyone can recreate in their kitchen.

Cookout Clams have become one of our favorite recipes. We share them as a fun appetizer with friends during a backyard BBQ, or pair them with crusty bread and a fresh salad for an easy meal.

Check out our cooking demonstration for these delicious Cookout Clams online, or just follow the recipe below. It doesn’t get much easier than this! And you can feel good about your choice to support local shellfish growers while creating a healthy and environmentally friendly meal.

The easiest way to cook the clams is to put them in a grill safe Pan and put them on the grill over medium heat until the shells pop open! Easy!

For the clams:

  • 1 – 2 lbs. of littlneck or middleneck hard clams (about 25 – 50 clams)

For dipping:

  • 1/3 cup Olive oil
  • 2 – 4 cloves chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 Tbs. chopped chives

I recommend pairing these clams with a loaf of crusty bread (French or sourdough) and a fresh green salad. Dinner is DONE!

Photo courtesy of Angela Collins

1seafoodnutrition.org, 2seafoodhealthfacts.org, 3shellfish.ifas.ufl.edu/environmental-benefits/

4Baker et al. 2015. “Green Clams: Estimating the value of environmental benefits generated by the hard clam aquaculture industry in Florida.”


A Call for Support for Aquaculture Grant Program

Another amazing team of individuals is working on a new grant proposal to help Gulfcoast waters and needs your help. Frank Asche and Taryn Garlock are applying for a special USDA NIFA grant program for aquaculture research. This team is planning to use risk modeling to determine how payments for ecosystem services could beneficially impact Florida clam and oyster growers. The plan is to look at the potential of growers being able to sell pollution mitigation credits (nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon) as part of their general business practices and also examine the potential benefits to growers of being able to sell their clams and oysters for restoration purposes when they encounter a red tide that causes their product to grow past market size due to regulatory closures.

The work of this team is one interesting aspect of this analysis would be to evaluate SWFL in particular and see if, based on our risk model, these revenue sources might make commercial clam production in the region more economically viable, given a large number of HABs faced by the area. As with all funding available, support from other stakeholders, supporters, and vocal advocates is crucial in many cases to awards.

This team is reaching out to see if you might be willing to write a letter of recommendation for the proposal – stakeholder support always goes a long way. They have already done similar risk modeling that was published with one of their grad students. The belief is that this project is a natural extension of that work. Please review all information and lend your support through letters and spreading the word about this vital grant application.

Thank you – All Clams On Deck Team

Port Manatee

20th Annual Ship-Shape Showcase and All Clams on Deck

On Thursday, April 14, the Manatee Chamber Ship-Shape Showcase was held at Port Manatee.  It was a beautiful blustery day at the Port and well attended by individuals and business owners.  Ship-Shape Showcase is all about networking, connecting, and showcasing fantastic businesses and organizations here in our community. The event draws hundreds of attendees and features 60+ Chamber member booths promoting local products and services. Attendees experience a close-up view of SeaPort Manatee through narrated bus tours, enjoy complimentary light bites provided by local restaurants and caterers, jam to music, win door prizes, and more!

Ship-Shape Showcase

It was a great opportunity for All Clams On Deck’s Executive Director Barbara Baker and Deb Cooney, Public Affairs, Chiles Group, to meet a wide range of people and spread the word about the mission of the Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative.  Response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, and everyone was eager to help in any way they could, as clean water is a hot topic not only in Florida but throughout the world. 

Fifty-two visitors signed up to receive our e-newsletter and enter a drawing for a $20.00 gift card to one of the Chiles Group restaurants.  Each person that visited the booth was asked if they would be willing to send a letter to Governor DeSantis asking he support the Appropriation 19341 ($2,500,000) in House Bill 5001.  Everyone asked enthusiastically responded they would throw their support behind this vital cause.  The number of commitments was about 75 people.  After listening to what All Clams On Deck are all about, several businesses asked that a representative from All Clams On Deck come to give a presentation to their membership.  As a result, we will be scheduling some speaking engagements in the near future.  The winner of the gift card drawing is Joe Marra, Piper Fire Protection – congrats!

Overall another amazing event in our community helping educate on clean water initiatives to help current water concerns and repair our waterways for the future!

Picture courtesy of All Clams on Deck

Resolution Moves to Governor DeSantis for Approval

On Thursday, April 7, at the Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting held at 6 p.m. at Bradenton Beach City Hall, the Commissioners approved a resolution being sent to Governor DeSantis. This is an amazing step forward for vital this initiative.

Here is an excerpt from Resolution no. 22-954: a resolution of the city commission of the city of Bradenton beach Florida, supporting HB 5001 budget 2022-23, 1665a, section 5, natural resources environment/growth management/transportation, Bradenton Beach underground power infrastructure in the amount of $3,000,000 as provided for in HB 4483 and Senate Form 1378, and 19341 gulf shellfish institute – clams and seagrass restoration – 3 estuaries SW Florida in the amount of $2,500,000, as provided for findings of fact; providing for repeal:  providing for severability; and, providing for an effective date.”

Please continue to support this initiative through your letters of support and getting the word out about this vital funding needed. Thank you to all our sponsors, supporters, and those who have sent letters already to assist in getting this funding approved.

All Clams on Deck Team


All About Seagrass

Clams help remove debris from the waters and mitigate pollution and other concerns impacting our waterways on the Gulf Coast. How does that help seagrass? Why does seagrass matter? Both of these questions are great for the newcomer to our cause as the connection between clams and seagrass might not immediately be understood.

Seagrass Basics

There are seven species of seagrass native to Florida waters. Seagrass is a critical nutrient and food source for many of the animals of our great state, including manage, green sea turtles, and aquatic birds, to name a few. Additionally, seagrass produces oxygen and is a natural filtration system to the water. They can help control erosion by trapping debris, sediment, and soil in their roots. One other little-known fact is that seagrass can minimize the effects of storms on water ecosystems by adding as a buffer to absorb the energy of the waves during this tumultuous time.

Here is a brief tutorial of the seven seagrass species in Florida:

  • Turtle Grass/Thalassia testudinum – most common, the name is in reference to green sea turtles that graze on large meadows of this grass.
  • Manatee Grass/Syringodium filiforme – second most common seagrass in Florida estuaries, a favorite food of manatees
  • Shoal Grass/Halodule wrightii – colonize in areas too harsh for turtle/manatee grass, forms dense growths in high salinity water
  • Johnson’s Seagrass/Halophila johnsonii – considered a threatened species due to limited distribution, first considered a separate specifies in the Indian River Lagoon in 1980
  • Paddle Grass/Halophila decipiens – looks a lot like Johnson’s seagrass but has a distinguishing serrated leaf margin and paddle-shaped blades, forms in shallow waters
  • Star Grass/Halophila engelmanni – grow on sandy or muddy waterway bottoms
  • Widgeon Grass/Ruppia maritima – not a true seagrass as it grows in both fresh and brackish waters and not full-strength seawater, able to withstand harsh daylight and some drought conditions

Seagrass Needs

Seagrass needs are pretty simple on the surface, clean water and sunlight. Therein lies the rub as red tide, pollution, and other factors are causing those two simple needs to be more difficult for seagrass beds to obtain. Pollution in several forms being introduced to the waters cause algae blooms blocking sunlight and clean water from seagrass meadows.

A Tough Cause and Effect

As you can now see, clams and seagrass actually have a great handshake approach to helping each other. Introduce clams that filter negative things like debris, red tide, and other pollutants to the waterways, thus leading the way for cleaner water. Cleaner water leads to more seagrass growth that helps protect the waterways from erosion and other negative impacts. Finally, healthier seagrass meadows also allow for the continuation of animal life and benefit tourism and many other industries here on the Gulf Coast. Who knew that seagrass could have such a big impact?

As you can see, the cause of All Clams on Deck to better clams distribution in the estuaries will have a direct cause and effect on healthier seagrass beds. Seagrass, by extension, breeds cleaner water and economic growth in tourism and other water-specific industries. Join our newsletter to stay abreast of all the amazing things All Clams on Deck will be undertaking in the coming months. Lend support via garnering attention, writing your stories, and letters of support for lobbying efforts underway. Let’s mitigate the declining clams populations and help stop the decline of these critical waterways today.

Photos courtesy of dep.state.fl.us