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Abstract

Reports the results of a survey of wholesalers and retailers of giant clam shells in Southeast Queensland undertaken in August 1989. The most common variety of clam shell was that of Hippopus hippopus (the horseshoe clam) with that of Tridacna squamosa (the fingernail clam) being the second most frequent. Shells of Tridacna porcellanus (the china clam) and of Tridacna gigas were also available but in extremely short supply. Only shells of these species appear to be in real demand. Shells of other species have unsatisfactory characteristics but shells of the species in demand are not perfect substitutes - the market is segmented. Information is presented on prices and quantities of clam shells sold. Currently, there seems to be an Australian market for about 100,000 to 120,000 clam shells per year. Practically all clam shells were imported from the Philippines but supplies are becoming scarce as CITES takes effect and natura1 stocks become exhausted. This is reflected in the unavailability of larger shells and the sale of shells of lower quality than in the past. Tourists possibly account for 60 - 70 per cent of sales of clam shells but only a small percentage (10%?) of sales are to overseas tourists because of weight problems. A reasonably high proportion of clam shells appear to be purchased by restaurants and directly by householders. Practically all shell outlets expressed interest in obtaining clam shells from farms and provided information on the type of shells which they would like to see produced. Most thought that there would be a ‘good’ market for clam shells obtained by mariculture.

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