Premium Seafood is located adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean on Florida's northeastern coastline south of St. Augustine and north of Marineland. Working with 4 other leaseholders, our cooperative group of farmers hold and farm over 20 acres of submerged land aquaculture leases located in the Matanzas river, 10 miles south of the St. Augustine inlet and 3 miles north of the Matanzas inlet. With normal river salinities 32-36 ppt, we share similar esturine conditions with most eastern Atlantic areas.
Utilizing 20 acres acres of submerged land granted by the state of Florida, we are one of the largest lease holders in the state. With suitable conditions for most of the year, we are providing many clam farmers in Florida, Virginia and the Carolinas with high quality clam seed.
Our hatchery facility is complete with spawning table, larval and setting tanks and is capable of handling 60 million clam larvae every two weeks during the spawning season. Using aggressive culling techniques, we yield 40-50 million quality seedlings per season.
Juvenile clams are placed in "upwelling" tanks. In these tanks, the clams are fed by water coming in under, passing through and drained off above. Clams will eat the algae from the water as is passes by. They spend about 2 weeks in these tanks and grow to about 3 millimeters in size. At that time they are separated with a screen or "sieve". Clams that have reached 3mm will hold on the sieve and will be moved to raceways. Clams that have not "come up" will be kept in the upwelling tanks for another cycle.
A raceway is very similar to the river. Our raceways are 16 feet long and 8 inches deep. Water is pumped in at one end, runs over the clams and drained off of the other end. Clams are held in wire trays lined with screen and laid next to each other.
As time passes, the silt builds up in each tray and the clam begins its life in the mud. After about 2 weeks, the clam has reached a size of 5 to 6 millimeters and is again sieved.
Seedings are separated in 5-6mm and 7-8mm and each batch is counted. Four, 20 milliliter samples will be counted and averaged. The number of clams per liter count will be interpolated from this average. Average counts might be:
5-6 millimeter clams 17,500 clams per liter
7-8 millimeter clams 8,000 clams per liter
At this point the seedlings will either be sold or sent to the field nursery. Seedlings for sale are bagged, tagged and packaged for shipping via air cargo. Seedlings not sold are prepared for the field nursery for further grow out.
Field NurseryClams going to the field are bagged in 4’x4’ nursery bags and rolled up. Each bag will be loaded with 15,000 seed clams and taken to the field, rolled out and staked down. Sometimes cover nets are used to keep the predators off. They will remain in the field for 10 to 12 weeks before they are pulled.
After 10 weeks of field nursery time, the seedlings are checked for growth. When it is determined that more than 75% of them will be greater than 12mm, they are ready to be pulled and graded. After clams are graded to size, they are counted and either packaged for sale or returned to the field and planted for final growout to food clams.
12-15mm Seed Clams
Pictured here are two different stocks of seed clams. The lighter is of South Carolina Stock. The darker is from Florida stock. As can be seen, we take care to keep our product free of other mollusks or marine growths.
Prepared for Sale
Field plant size clams are washed down on a prep table with fresh water and counted. Our field plant clams typically average:
12-15 millimeter clams 1500-2000 clams per liter
15-18 millimeter clams 700-1000 clams per liter
Clams will be either bagged in onion bags, loaded in refrigerated truck and transported at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or packed in cooler boxes, chilled to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and shipped via air cargo.
Clams grown from Florida stock, washed and graded prior to sale.