José Florêncio, from Formosa – Cooperativa de Viveiristas da Ria Formosa, told Lusa that, although both productions currently have low business levels, clam producers find it more difficult for the product to grow and achieve the highest possible profitability.

“Clams have been losing space because there has been a lot of oyster exports. And people are not ready to wait two years for the clams to grow and have to turn somewhere else”, stated José Florêncio, referring to the investment in oyster production.

Oyster production “has grown a lot” in the Ria Formosa, which stretches from Vila Real de Santo António to Loulé, in the Faro district, and this “should not happen”, because “some producers, when they are surrounded by oysters, say that the clam grows slower”, he considered.

“It’s not proven, but it makes some sense because the oyster filters more than the clam”, he said, highlighting that “there are also other factors”, such as the lack of rain or renewal of the waters of the estuary, although there is no study yet on the subject and the carrying capacity of oysters in the Ria Formosa should have already been studied.

Lusa spoke with Ricardo Raimundo, who produces clams on the island of Armona, in Olhão, and with Eduardo Soares, who produces oysters in Tavira, and while the first complaints about the loss of profitability, the second is satisfied with the growth that has been felt in the sector and looks to the future with “optimism”.

Ricardo Raimundo pointed out the low rainfall and lack of water oxygenation as likely factors for the poor growth of clams but also highlighted the increase in oyster production as one of the causes of the loss of yield.

Asked about this possibility, Eduardo Soares admitted that the growth seen in recent years in oyster farming may be causing difficulties in clam production, but considered that it is not a unique factor and recalled that this bivalve was already being affected by other problems, such as mortality.

Ricardo Raimundo acknowledged that, if the activity does not improve, he may in the future stop producing clams to dedicate himself to oysters, because “it reached 50,000 to 60,000 euros in sales” and, in the last year, “we did not reach at 30,000” euros.

“There are a lot of oysters in the Ria Formosa and, day by day, the nurseries have fewer and fewer clams, people are turning to oysters and I myself, if that is the case, in a year or so two, I will have to turn to oysters, because my productivity is increasingly weak”, he stated.