Razor clams have been always consumed in Galicia, as paid testament to by the piles of shells found in ancient Celtic and Roman dumps. Galicia’s catches have been increasing in recent years and now account for 25% of the European haul 23% of the global razor clam catch.
Commercial catches of razor clams are performed by free divers in Galicia. Just as they are in the abalone fishery of Australia, on the other side of the world. [Continued below].
Dr Jeremy Prince has developed The Barefoot Ecology toolbox, which comprises a set of user-friendly tools to effectively manage fisheries. The toolkit has been successful because it can be used directly by the fishermen to improve the health of exploited populations, and thus support their livelihoods. This has been particularly true during its application to artisanal small-scale invertebrate fisheries, like the abalone fishery of Australia.
As a former abalone diver, Jeremy has firsthand experience and accumulated knowledge about the ecology of this important marine resource. He has now been working with the abalone divers for more than 10 years, setting up processes by which the fishers conduct their own assessments. Indeed, the government uses these same self-assessments to set the annual quotas.
Jeremy invited me to spend the month of February in Australia developing a management tool for razor clams. The razor clam divers from Cambados and Aguiño (both partners in our case of study in Galicia) are very interested in the experience and have provided me with fishery data to be integrated in the tool.
During my first week in Australia, I will attend the annual meeting of the Western Zone Abalone Divers Association in Victoria (South Australia). This meeting will set the catch and size limits for the next year. There I will meet fishermen, researchers and government officials involved in the discussions and I hope I will learn a lot about the management processes of this fishery. I’ll let you know what I’ve learned in my next post!