Tag: Tampa Bay

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

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


Sarasota Bay Watch Scallopalooza – Passionate About Clams

On February 12, 2022, a group of private citizens and various organizations gathered for the Sarasota Bay Watch Scallopalooza Event held at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota. The challenge issued for the event was to help Sarasota Bay Watch clean up Sarasota Bay with the CLAMpaign for Clean Water. This effort is fundraising to put 1 million additional clams in Sarasota Bay to help further help restore natural populations and clean our water. The cost of these clams would be $100,000, and this event was intended to move the dial closer to that goal.

Ed Chiles of the Chiles Group was one of the Sponsors of the event, where he spoke of the All Clams on Deck initiative recently launched, helping further lobby for clams and seagrass initiatives in the three estuaries in our region. He further challenged the audience members to match his $10,000 pledge to Sarasota Bay Watch, which was just part of the amazing things that happened at this critical fundraising night here on the gulf coast. Some matching donations and other larger dollar values were raised toward the critical goal. Through a cocktail hour silent auction, additional funds padded the final total, with the event boasting over 400 attendees.

The evening included an amazing show and tell of in front of attendees of the work that clams can do in our waterways. Once everyone was seated, waiters came around and dumped Mercenaria campechiensis, the native Southern Hard Shelled clams, into the container on each table (see photo 1).  Those are the same type of clams that they use for restoration.  Attendees were told to keep an eye on the water condition as the evening progressed.  The photo marked 3 you see below shows what the water looked like after about 1 ½ hours.  The clams had eaten the algae & cleaned the water to almost clear in that short period of time. 

This short video presentation done by Sandy Gilbert (START) gives a feel of the passion and dedication so many organizations have toward this critical work of restoring our waterways here on the gulf coast.

Statement from Sarasota Bay Watch – Ronda Ryan, Program Director:

We are very grateful to our supporters. We’re excited to have the funds to buy the clams currently available from the clam farmers and use them for ecological and water quality restoration.  We look forward to the pending approval of our application to establish a clam lease in Sarasota Bay.  It will be the first aquaculture lease in Florida for shellfish restoration purposes.

This effort will continue and stretch across the counties we all live in throughout the coming months and years. There is much work in fundraising and other efforts to better the waterways we all enjoy with numerous initiatives, organizations, and municipal and government organizations. We invite all readers to learn about clams in our waterways and the efforts underway. Please find a way to join the initiative as many educational, fundraising, and actual work events happen through so many amazing organizations in our community.

Remember, these are OUR waterways and the legacy we will leave for future generations.

Photos courtesy of All Clams on Deck


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


Get to Know All Clams on Deck

All Clams On Deck is excited to announce the launch of their new website to keep everyone fully abreast of ongoing efforts around this important initiative. Who is All Clams on Deck, you might ask? If you haven’t been introduced to this large-scale effort, give us just a few minutes to introduce ourselves and show you this amazing new resource for information on how you can improve waterways around the Gulf coast.

Why Clams?

There is a well-documented problem in the estuaries of Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbor here on the gulf coast. The issue at hand is rapidly declining clam populations and seagrass due to pollution, red tide, and other bacteria in the waterways. This crisis is what All Clams on Deck is focused on correcting, which naturally lends itself to the question – why clams? Well, we turn to science to answer this one. Clams can absorb pollutants, bacteria, and even viruses from the water in which they live. This allows for cleaner waters and helps to work towards lowering the impact of pollution and red tide, to name just two issues on our waterways.

The Results

The outcome of restoring the clam populations, and by extension, better seagrass meadows, is improved water quality. This leads to healthier habitats in these waters for both commercial and recreational fishermen and others in the area who enjoy spending time on and around these waterways. Improved water quality is good for the people, the water ecosystems, and the economy of the gulf coast. Visitor populations spend billions of dollars here in our communities to visit these critical waterways. Restoring them, maintenance them, and protecting them for the future keeps the guilt coast economically healthy.

Get Involved

There are three main ways that you can get involved with All Clams on Deck. First, send a letter of support to help the lobbying efforts for 15 million federal funding to model a project restring 650 acres of seagrass and clams on the gulf coast. This is an important first step, but that means we need voices to back this effort. This leads us to you sharing our story with us in your organization, community, and even through social media. Let’s get the word out about this project and build the momentum to start improving our waterways. Of course, these efforts take the money and donating to organizations like All Clams on Deck builds a clear message of concern for the future, continuing to help drive change.

While you might not immediately have thought of clams and economic growth here on the Gulf Coast, these two share a definite connection. 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.

Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos