Quahogs in Eastern North America: Part I, Biology, Ecology, and Historical Uses

MacKenzie, Jr., Clyde L. and Morrison, Allan and Taylor, David L. and Burrell, Jr. , Victor G. and Arnold, William S. and Wakida-Kusunoki, Armando T. (2002) Quahogs in Eastern North America: Part I, Biology, Ecology, and Historical Uses. Marine Fisheries Review, 64(2), pp. 1-55.

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The northern quahog, Mercenaria mercenaria, ranges along the Atlantic Coast of North America from the Canadian Maritimes to Florida, while the southern quahog, M. campechiensis, ranges mostly from Florida to southern Mexico. The northern quahog was fished by native North Americans during prehistoric periods. They used the meats as food and the shells as scrapers and as utensils. The European colonists copied the Indians treading method, and they also used short rakes for harvesting quahogs. The Indians of southern New England made wampum from quahog shells, used it for ornaments and sold it to the colonists, who, in turn, traded it to other Indians for furs. During the late 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s, wampum was made in small factories for eventual trading with Indians farther west for furs. The quahoging industry has provided people in many coastal communities with a means of earning a livelihood and has provided consumers with a tasty, wholesome food whether eaten raw, steamed, cooked in chowders, or as stuffed quahogs. More than a dozen methods and types of gear have been used in the last two centuries for harvesting quahogs. They include treading and using various types of rakes and dredges, both of which have undergone continuous improvements in design. Modern dredges are equipped with hydraulic jets and one type has an escalator to bring the quahogs continuously to the boats. In the early 1900’s, most provinces and states established regulations to conserve and maximize yields of their quahog stocks. They include a minimum size, now almost universally a 38-mm shell width, and can include gear limitations and daily quotas. The United States produces far more quahogs than either Canada or Mexico. The leading producer in Canada is Prince Edward Island. In the United States, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island lead in quahog production in the north, while Virginia and North Carolina lead in the south. Connecticut and Florida were large producers in the 1990’s. The State of Campeche leads in Mexican production. In the northeastern United States, the bays with large openings, and thus large exchanges of bay waters with ocean waters, have much larger stocks of quahogs and fisheries than bays with small openings and water exchanges. Quahog stocks in certifi ed beds have been enhanced by transplanting stocks to them from stocks in uncertified waters and by planting seed grown in hatcheries, which grew in number from Massachusetts to Florida in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Item Type: Article
Title: Quahogs in Eastern North America: Part I, Biology, Ecology, and Historical Uses
Personal Creator/Author:
MacKenzie, Jr., Clyde L.
Morrison, Allan
Taylor, David L.
Burrell, Jr. , Victor G.
Arnold, William S.
Wakida-Kusunoki, Armando T.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 64
Number: 2
Page Range: pp. 1-55
Date: 2002
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Biology
Item ID: 9744
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 13:22
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 13:22
URI: http://aquaticcommons.org/id/eprint/9744

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