BUSINESS

Geoduck farming takes off as demand for clams grows in Asia

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

HARSTINE ISLAND, Wash. (AP) — A growing middle class in Asia is driving demand for an odd-shaped giant clam that thrives in the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Last year, the U.S. exported $74 million, or about 11 million pounds, worth of live wild and farmed geoduck (GOO'-ee-duhk), mostly to China and Hong Kong. That's double the volume and value exported in 2008.

That demand is prompting shellfish farmers to grow more of the clams along Washington's private tidelands. Several new farms have been permitted in recent years, despite challenges from opponents concerned about potential environmental harm.

And now, backed by new research showing mostly short-lived, localized environmental effects from geoduck farming, the state is preparing for the first time to lease 15 acres of public tidelands for geoduck aquaculture.