Photo: WINK News

New project could help restore SWFL clam farms amid water crisis

Clam farmers are among the many who have been affected by the red tide and toxic algae in Southwest Florida.

Local farmers like Tony Heep say they have seen it before, but it has never been this bad.

“We’ve had to deal with a red tide over the years but not like this,” said Heep. “We’ve been shut down now for I think over 10 months.”

In an effort to restore the clam farms, local farmers are teaming up with the University of Florida to work on a project together, called the ABC Plan, that could restore over a billion clams.

“The ABC plan is basically trying to put back the filter feeders into the sound where they were years ago to help alleviate the problem of the algae,” Heep said.
“We will take native clams, we will take them out and plant them in a natural clam bee, we will mimic a natural clam bed, we will cover it with protective netting and take care of it, and at the end of three years we will remove everything and just leave the natural clam bed,” Heep said.
While the farmer’s are expecting the worst, they are still hopeful things can be restored.

“if we get enough of them out there we really believe that it would be a mitigating for us on the length and intensity of red tide,” said Barry Hurt, who is a part of the SWFL Shellfish Association.

About 15 family run clam farms in the area are taking part in the ABC Plan so far.

 

 

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
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