About 2 years ago we started importing Maxima clams from French Polynesia. We have a partner in Tahiti and he started by collecting clams from the remote Austral islands where the clam populations are the largest in the world with estimates of hundreds of millions of clams around each island. There are so many clams that some islands are made out of clam shells.
One of The Remote Austral Islands
Islands Made From Clams
A Typical Reef Area Where Clams are Found
Clams are found in areas with strong currents and in shallow water, about 1-6 feet deep under very intense tropical sunlight.
Typical Rock Outcropping Where Clams are Found, usually just a couple feet down, in crystal clear water
Maxima Clams are Naturally Embedded in Rock or Coral
Clams are used predominantly as a food source in this part of the world. Millions of clams are eaten annually, only a tiny fraction are collected for the worldwide aquarium trade. Clams are part of the culture in French Polynesia. They have been placed there as a food source by the gods and local divers perform a ritual before entering the water of giving a symbol to the gods and their forefathers by eating a clam before they work in the water.
Local Diver Jimmy Performing a Clam Eating Ritual Before Beginning a Dive
At the same time that we began 2 years ago collecting and importing clams, we also started propagating clams by collecting the natural spawns of the huge populations of clams. Our partner has an extensive background in Pearl Oyster production, so he has been able to produce thousands of clams. However, local laws prevented us from exporting any clams smaller than 4.5 inches. Several months ago Dr. Mac traveled to French Polynesia and set up meetings with the President of French Polynesia and several Ministers of Fisheries and other government agencies to explain the need in the worldwide aquarium industry for sustainable products and specifically cultured clams that are smaller than 4 inches. The meetings went well and we have been able to get the local and international laws changed (as the name implies French Polynesia is owned by France and so not only local but French laws had to be changed). For the first time ever, we recently brought these smaller, 6-9cm, clams into he US and hope to be able to regularly offer these beautiful animals for sale to the worldwide aquarium trade. They appear to be extremely hardy and traveled quite well. While we will continue to offer some of the larger wild collected Maximas, our focus will be on these smaller cultured clams. Both are quite sustainable due to our propagation efforts on the culture clams and the fact that we collect an insignificantly small number of wild clams to have any affect on the sustainability of the wild populations that are in the many many hundreds of millions and continually regenerating naturally.
Dr. Mac meeting with the President of French Polynesia
(The iPad as an effective tool)
Lunch with the Prez and the Minister of Fisheries
The President met with Sec. Hillary Clinton the week after Dr. Mac was there, French Polynesia holds a strategically important location as well as a very valuable resource of protein now being exported to China and thus the US concern for the area.
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