Last week I was invited by the Municipality of Qikiqtarjuaq to participate in an 8-day trip on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with two of my fellow divers. There, the production of clams is very developed, as well as professional diving and scientific research. Many encounters and exciting tours, which should contribute to develop a sustainable commercial exploitation of the coveted natural resource. The Government of Nunavut had a big budget voted in January 2015 to develop the exploitation of marine resources. The scientific interest in clams is also important because their shells tell the characteristics of the ocean throughout their slow growth. Currently ongoing studies are measuring inventories, describing accurately the species and its habitat, and setting up possible quotas.
The first clams consumers are walruses, which can be seen in the summer, a few dozen kilometers from the village, when the ice breakup. Qikiqtarjuaq saw its first divers in 1997 and could become a pilot village for other Nunavut communities. Today, only four divers collect clams, in a very traditional way, selling them directly to local consumers, $1 to $2 per clam. Only business to one of them, complementary activity to the others. Concerns about food security, safety of the divers, and associated costs with diving prevented commercial operations since the early 2000s.