How To Start a Geoduck Business

There are many different seafood products that can be farmed under controlled circumstances rather than harvested in the wild. One of these is geoducks, pronounced gooey-ducks; these have the distinction of being the largest burrowing saltwater clams in the world.

Native to the Northwest coast of the United States, British Columbia and Alaska, geoducks can weigh as much as 3 pounds, with shells measuring 7 to 9 inches long; the neck, also called the siphon, can grow up to 3 feet in length. The clam feeds itself by sucking plankton through this long neck.

To begin your career as a geoduck farmer and join the $80 million U.S. geoduck industry,  contact the Wasington State Department of Natural Resources, with whom you will need to enter into a harvest agreement.  You can buy, rent or lease sub-tidal beach property along the coast as the site of your geoduck farm as long as the waters have been classified as non-polluted.

Fish hatcheries in the area can provide you with geoduck "seeds", which are immature clams. Prepare your beach land as a growing area for your geoducks by building a framework constructed of pieces of plastic piping in one-foot square sections.  Plant no more than 4 seeds along each one-foot length of pipe by positioning them in the sand at least 6 inches deep. Now you will need to cover this area with a predator net that is secured to the beach so that it doesn't wash or blow away.  Your pipe framework can be removed after 12 months, but it will take another 3 to 4 years until your geoducks are ready to harvest.

Harvesting mature geoducks takes patience and strength.  A good clue to finding the clam necks is when they squirt seawater.  Take a shovel and a 55-gallon drum, placing the drum over the site of the exposed clam neck.  Start digging, allowing the drum to sink into the hole as you are digging to prevent the hole from collapsing. Once you have dug about 3 feet down, the clam shell will be exposed and you'll be able to bring up the geoduck.

In China, the geoduck is considered a delicacy and sells for up to $30 a pound to be prepared raw as a sushi specialty or cooked in hot oil or broth like a fondue meat.


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