Suquamish Tribe builds, operates its own shellfish nursery

The Suquamish Tribe is one of the few tribes in Western Washington to build its own floating upwelling system (FLUPSY), a type of shellfish nursery that is becoming more common for raising clams to seed on beaches.

The tribe constructed a 15-foot by 30-foot floating dock that holds eight bins for baby clam seed. In mid-June, for the inaugural load of seed, two million clams were placed throughout four of the bins. A constant flow of water is forced through the bins, providing nutrient-rich water for the clams, promoting growth.

Suquamish shellfish biologist Luke Kelly, left, and shellfish technician Ron Harrell load the FLUPSY with shellfish seed. For more photos, click on the picture.

“Typically, we purchase clams ready to seed on beaches,” said Viviane Barry, the tribe’s shellfish management biologist. “But we can save money by purchasing smaller seeds and raising them ourselves in the FLUPSY.”

After being in the bins for several weeks, the tribe will pick out the largest ones ready for planting on beaches.

“We’ll plant at lower densities on the beach because larger seed have better survival rates,” Barry said.

The tribe would eventually like to establish a hatchery that allows the tribe to be involved with the entire lifecycle of the clams, she said.

Watch a video of how the tribe will use the FLUPSY here.



For more information, contact Viviane Barry, Suquamish Tribe shellfish biologist, at (360) 394-8448 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].