FARNET
Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Project

Sea truffle farming

Official Title: 
Development of an experimental management-breeding of bivalve sea truffles (Venus verrucosa) in the Venice lagoon
Country:
Region: 
A local fisheries cooperative and research institute successfully pilot the farming of warty venus clams, or “sea truffles”, diversifying the area’s aquaculture production.

Description

From the late 1990s and for almost all the 2000s, the production of clams (Tapes philippinarum) in the Venetian lagoons was one of the main revenue sources for local fishermen. However, the lack of youth recruitment, coupled with a general depreciation of the product, has led to a crisis in the sector. The warty venus clam (Venus verrucosa), also known as a “sea truffle” for its high economic value, has also been present in the area and sometimes caught as by-catch though never commercialized because of the scarce capture volumes.

A local fisheries cooperative, in partnership with a research institute (Agri.Te.Co) and the Venetian FLAG, decided to experiment with breeding and cultivating these warty venus clams to diversify the area’s aquaculture production and increase the market supply of local fisheries products. As these bivalve molluscs are traditionally consumed raw, the product quality required close monitoring and the project aimed to test whether it was feasible to cultivate sea truffles to food safety standards and whether the activity could be economically viable. It was hoped that by moving the clams to designated areas of the lagoon, they could be grown to commercial size while assuring the necessary quantity. This pilot project involved several phases:

  • Identification of potential breeding areas in the lagoon for the experimental clam farming
  • Preparation of the sea bottom to make it suitable for testing
  • Involvement of local fishermen to collect the clams and relocate them to the designated breeding areas
  • Sanitary monitoring of the clams (water quality and bacterial testing of the clams)
  • Periodic monitoring of clam population development
Results: 

Five breeding areas were identified and tested and two (for a total of 15 hectares) were discovered to be suitable for breeding warty venus clams. For the first time, these clams, which are typically a marine species, were successfully farmed in a lagoon environment, demonstrating that it was possible to reach commercial quality and quantity.

Although the quantities of the clams produced are small compared to well-known commercial species such as sea clams or mussels, the value can reach up to €10/kg for the fisherman (first sale price) and €25-35 for the end consumer. This has sparked interest among a dozen local fishermen to diversify their activities.

Transferability: 

Testing out the production of new species for aquaculture is something that FLAGs can be well-placed to support if underexploited species exist in their areas – including in non-lagoon environments. However, strong collaboration with interested research organizations is necessary and support from local public authorities is also extremely important.

Lessons & contribution to CLLD objectives: 
  • Lessons: An important element of success of this project was its bottom-up approach with early involvement of the local fishermen. The project has created links between local fishermen, scientists and local authorities, demonstrating how their different roles can fit together and contribute to the development of local businesses.
    This project also suggests that lagoon areas could be tested for breeding other, less commercial clam species, such as Chamelea Gallina, Paphia Aurea, etc.
  • Contribution to CLLD objectives: adding value, creating jobs, attracting young people and promoting innovation at all stages of the supply chain of fishery and aquaculture products

Funding

Total project cost €50 000
FLAG grant €50 000
  • EU contribution (EMFF): €25 000
  • Public contribution (national): €17 500
  • Public contribution (regional): €7 500

Project information

Timeframe of implementation From Apr 2014 to May 2015
Theme

Beneficiary

Cooperativa Lavoratori piccola pesca Pellestrina

Visuals

Contact details

FLAG Contacts

Mr. Giancarlo Pegoraro
+39 0421 394202
Italy
Publication date: 
01/12/2017
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