A major threat to the success of the shellfish aquaculture industry, as well as the public fishery, is disease. Our program actively responds to reports of disease outbreaks, and provides assistance with the costs of testing for natural resource managers and (in cases of new outbreaks) shellfish farmers. Though there are a number of conditions which can be problematic to shellfish, there are specific diseases of concern around Cape Cod and New England. Oyster diseases include Juvenile Oyster Disease (JOD), Dermo (Perkinsus marinus), MSX or Multinucleated Sphere Unkown (Haplosporidium nelsoni), and SSO or Seaside Organism (Haplosporidium costale). In quahogs the major pathogen is QPX, or Quahog Parasite Unknown, and as its name indicates is an organism which is still being researched. Heavy soft shell clam mortality has sometimes been attributed to a condition called hemocytic neoplasia, and the causal agent of this disease is still being determined. With the help of other researchers, we have developed an informational brochure to aid in awareness of these diseases and management practices (see below). For a full list of all available brochures including common pests and predators to shellfish, see the documents page.
Management of QPX
Though preventing of the spread of quahog disease QPX is the best management practice, a number of regional shellfish farmers need to develop culture management methods that improve survival despite the presence of QPX in their area. We have conducted field experiments testing the effects of planting density, comparing seed from two hatcheries, and differences between plots which are tended (with dead & dying clams removed) or not. We also continue to be involved with investigation of new concerns and management issues as they develop.