HomeNewsMexico's Geoduck Clams Latest Casualty of Asian Demand

Mexico's Geoduck Clams Latest Casualty of Asian Demand


Mexican geoduck clam populations are suffering as legal harvests are threatened by rampant poaching, which has driven the species onto the endangered species list.

The legal geoduck clam industry is steadily being pushed out by poachers who operate with little fear of repercussion, according to La Jornada, quoting Mexico’s chamber of commerce for fisheries (Canainpesca). At the same time, Mexican fishing authorities assert that the clam’s status as a luxury seafood dish in Asian markets is fueling a perhaps irreversible decline.

SEE ALSO: Latin America's Bustling Trade in Seahorses to China

Sergio Guevara Escamilla, Canainpesca’s representative in the northwestern state of Baja California, blamed “a network of corruption” threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of families to fuel the demand for this seafood dish in Asian markets.

To curb exploitation, the Mexican government announced temporary moratoriums on fishing the clams every year. These ran from April 16-30, 2021, and will take place from January 25 to April 30 in the years to come.

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has ravaged northwestern Mexico, making the clam one of the most threatened marine species in the region.

InSight Crime Analysis

While numerous other marine species in Mexico have been threatened, the speed at which the geoduck clam has been overexploited is alarming. First discovered in the Gulf of California in the 1990s, the clam’s harvesting regulation has only been in place since 2007.

Its price in Mexico can reach $40 a kilogram and a single geoduck clam can fetch as high as $300 in high-end restaurants in China, according to the BBC. It is also legally produced in the United States and China, with 90 percent of clams going to China.

SEE ALSO: Coronavirus Has Not Slowed Looting of Latin America’s Maritime Species

The same goes for Mexico. “More than 90 percent of the production is exported to Asia, where introducers have no qualms about receiving the illegal product, especially at a price lower than the market price,” Guevara Escamilla told La Jornada.  

The Mexican navy has worked to stem the flow of illegally sourced clams to international markets, making regular seizures of geoduck clams alongside sea cucumbers, lobsters, abalone and other seafood.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.


Related Content


The United States has sanctioned four suspected members of Mexico’s powerful CJNG cartel, alleging that they controlled drug operations at…


The consequences of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing are immediate and enormous across Latin America and the Caribbean.

MEXICO / 25 APR 2022

The Mexican government's shuttering of a special criminal investigative unit that worked with US anti-drug agents has added new cracks…

About InSight Crime


Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…


World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…


InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…


Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…


‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…