Intertidal clam

Photo: Manila and littleneck clams
Manila and littleneck clams.
Back row - 3 Manila clams to show patterns compared to the Native littleneck on the right
Front row - 2 Manila clams to show the variation of colours inside the shells compared to the Native littleneck on right.


Immediately prior to harvesting clams and other bivalves, check to ensure that the area where you intend to harvest is open. For more information on Shellfish closures, please visit the Shellfish Contamination page.

The most common form of harvest for clams is hand digging or picking. The common tool is an ordinary short-tined garden rake. Species dug consist of razor clams, butter clams, littleneck clams, Manila clams and varnish clams. Butter clams lay lower under the surface and a garden-type, long-handled potato fork tool is used to harvest the species. Razor clams are dug individually with a short-handled, thin bladed shovel. Harvesters are encouraged to fill in holes to reduce predation on exposed juvenile clams.

Harvesting clams that are undersized is prohibited. The size limit for clams in the commercial clam fishery must be measured in a straight line through the greatest breadth of the shell, littlenecks: 38 mm, butter 63 mm, Manila: 38 mm and razor: 90 mm. There is a size limit of 35mm for Manila and Littleneck clams and a size limit of 55 mm for the recreational clam fishery.

With the exception of certain management areas, many areas are closed due to a high risk of PSP and ASP, and the absence of biotoxin monitoring and water quality surveys in those areas. Additional closures may be invoked in other areas when elevated levels of biotoxins are detected.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada participate in programs to assess and re-evaluate biotoxins and sanitary conditions (contamination) in shellfish growing waters.

Integrated fisheries management plans

Overview of the fishery