Hard Clams

Hard Clam image
Common Name Hard Clams
Market Name northern quahog, hardshell clam, littleneck clams
Scientific name Mercenaria mercenaria

Sourcing Summary

Size

1.5-5 in.

Hard clams are available year-round, with an increased supply during warmer months. These clams have a mild flavor that is sweet and briny. Hard clams are sold fresh live and as shucked meat, frozen shucked meat, frozen on the half-shell, canned, and in value-added products such as sauces and soups. Hard clams have a longer shelf life than soft shell clams. Hard shells should be tightly closed when bought in the shell, and any open live shells should snap shut when tapped or put in cold water. Live clams should not smell bad. Since a “bushel” definition varies among suppliers, buyers recommend getting clams by the piece or by the pound instead. Most hard clams are named according to their size.

Product Forms

Fresh/Frozen
Fresh
Product Forms
Live
Meat
Fresh/Frozen
Frozen
Product Forms
Half Shell
Meat

Fresh Seasonal Availability

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes

Culinary Composition

Sweet

Flavor

Firm

Texture

Cooking Methods

Advisory Concern

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning

Health/Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving Size: 100g
Amount per serving
Calories 74
Total Fat 1g
Cholesterol 34mg
Sodium 56mg
Carbohydrates 0g
Protein 13g
Omega-3 0.2g

Science & Management

Wild
Harvest Methods

Conservation Criteria - Wild

Impact on Stock

Hard clams, also known as littlenecks, Northern quahogs, cherrystones, chowder clams and topnecks, are a fecund species that don’t move much throughout their lives. Since they are concentrated in beds, they are vulnerable to fishing pressure. Hard clams are found along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico in intertidal waters. Although they are not listed as overfished by international bodies, their abundance in some areas has declined to low levels compared with historical levels. The overall population is considered unknown.

Habitat impacts ( Wild)

Hard clams are primarily gathered using tongs and rakes. Hand rakes have less of an impact on the seagrass beds where the clams are harvested than mechanized rakes or small dredges. Overall the gear impact is considered moderate since heavy raking can have a long-lasting effect on aquatic vegetation. Since clams are filter feeders, they can improve water quality where they grow.

Bycatch

Bycatch in the hard clam fisheries is very low because the fishery is highly selective and the gear is designed to lower the likelihood of catching undersized clams.

Management effectiveness

The hard clam commercial fishery has some management measures depending on the area that include area closures and local data collection. The entire fishery lacks adequate data monitoring, though. While the hard clam fishery’s capacity has declined over time, this has been attributed to lower commercial profitability and declining availability rather than a direct consequence of management action.

Conservation Criteria - Farmed

Origin Method Ratings
All Other Origins All Other Fishing Methods  
All Other Origins All Other Farming Methods  
Canada - Atlantic Rakes / Shovels  
USA Dredge  
USA - Massachusetts Rakes / Shovels  
USA - New York Rakes / Shovels  
USA - North Carolina Rakes / Shovels  
USA - Rhode Island Rakes / Shovels  
USA - Virginia Rakes / Shovels  
Worldwide Uncontained  
Name Country State / Province
American Mussel Harvesters United States Rhode Island
American Shellfish Company United States Virginia
Atlantic Shellfish Products Inc. Canada Prince Edward Island
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Cedar Shoals, Inc. United States Florida
Chatham Seafood Enterprises United States Massachusetts
Chatham Shellfish Co. United States Massachusetts
Cherrystone Aqua-Farms, Inc. United States Virginia
Core Sound Seafood United States North Carolina
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
Fanny Bay Oysters Canada British Columbia
Future Seafoods, Inc. Canada Prince Edward Island
H.M. Terry Co., Inc. United States Virginia
Hudson Valley Seafood United States New York
Island Creek Oysters United States Massachusetts
Island Fresh Seafood United States South Carolina
Livingston's Bulls Bay Seafood United States South Carolina
Lobster Trap United States Massachusetts
Lowcountry Catch United States South Carolina
Lusamerica Foods, Inc. United States California
Mobjack Bay Seafood, Inc. United States Virginia
Netuno USA United States Florida
Northeast Oceans United States Massachusetts
Ocean Cove Seafood United States Virginia
Ocean State Fresh United States Rhode Island
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Prince Edward Aqua Farms Canada Prince Edward Island
Rappahannock River Oysters United States Virginia
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Sarasota Seafood Company United States Florida
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Smokey Bay Seafood Company, Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Stavis Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Thimble Island Oyster Company United States Connecticut
Wild Edibles, Inc. United States New York