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Indian clam fishery enters MSC assessment

13 Jun 2013

India’s short-neck clam fishery in the Ashtamudi Estuary has entered into MSC assessment.

If successful it will be the first certified Indian fishery.

The community-based short-neck clam fishery (Paphia malabarica) directly employs up to 1,500 fishers and indirectly contributes to the livelihoods of another 3,000. It is estimated that Paphia malabarica makes up 12,000-15,000t of the 20,000t of clams caught in the Ashtamudi Estuary.

Fishers harvest the clams by diving and hand dredging from dug-out canoes, with no mechanical intervention. Community initiatives and collaboration with WWF, Molluscan Fisheries Division Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, District administration, Kollam and the State Fisheries Department have seen the implementation of various regulatory measures. Certification against the MSC Standard would provide market recognition for these efforts.

Products from the fishery are exported as frozen raw, frozen cooked, fresh cooked, fresh raw, freeze-dried and dehydrated to markets in Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. 

The Convenor of the Ashtamudi Clam Council in Kollam said, "Working in partnership has been key to our fishery reaching this point. We started making improvements with support from WWF in 2010, using the MSC Standard as a sustainability measure that we could work towards. The challenges we’ve had to overcome in order to be ready for full assessment have been manageable and we hope that other small-scale fisheries can learn from us that it is achievable. We look forward to the possibility of MSC certification and the continued benefits that come through fishing sustainably."