Sourcing Our Sustainable Clams
The clam fishery is a traditional source of food and employment for people living in the local coastal area of Ben Tre Province, and has been the first fishery in Southeast Asia to be awarded the MSC certification for sustainability.
The Ben Tre Province, located on the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, has access to 65km of coastal area and contains an incredible biodiversity. A little haven from tourist occupied areas, this region offers some of the most breath-taking natural sceneries you can find in Vietnam.
A Sustainable Clam Harvest
The clams are harvested by hand twice a month, when the sand flats of the Mekong Delta are exposes to strong tidal pulls. Commercial harvesting takes place all year round, but it is mostly dominated in the period April to October.
The only tools allowed are metal rakes, small nets to return the smaller clams and mesh sacks to transport the harvest (the width of the rake and the size of the net are strictly regulated). There is a severe ban on any kind of machinery to preserve the ecosystem in which the clams thrive.
The clams are dug up, graded and washed right there on the beach uncovered by the tidal pull. The grading is particularly important to keep the harvest sustainable: only clams of a certain size and over can be taken, everything smaller is returned to the sand and waters of the Mekong, ensuring the sustainable development of the smaller clams and avoiding by-catch.
Focusing on the Community
The Clam fishery plays a crucial economic role in the development of the local communities that live in the area, while at the same time serving as a model for sustainability for all the fisheries in South-East Asia. It has been estimated that the achievement of the MSC certification has brought a 400% increase in income for the local fishers.
The fishery is operated by a number of local cooperatives. The cooperatives have been very important for the development and well being of the community of harvesters, with an estimated income increase of around 80% compared to when they used to fish individually. The processed meat of this clam are largely exported to international markets such as the EU, Japan, China, Taiwan, USA, of which the EU is the most important.