COA and Conservation

The Importance of Mollusks

COA members and the Conchologists of America strongly support informed management and conservation policies for mollusks. Without the health and diversity of molluscan populations all over this earth our planet would be much the poorer. There are many ways in which mollusks add to our lives that we would sadly miss if our mollusks were allowed to be destroyed by carelessness.

  • They are an important fishing and packing industry; without them, a vast number of jobs would disappear.
  • They are a major part of our diet: Many third world nations depend upon all manner of mollusks for daily sustenance. In American cuisine, mussels, calamari (octopus), squid, coquina, conch for steaks and fritters are all considered epicurean delicacies, while in Europe, cockles and winkles join that group. And in the western U.S., there is the highly prized abalone! And just try to imagine clam chowder, Coquilles St. Jacques or Oysters Rockefeller without clams, scallops or oysters!
  • Pearls would be a thing of the past. Without oysters and fresh water mussels, where would we get them? Even mother-of-pearl would comes from the shells of abalones, freshwater mussels and trochid shells.
  • One of our best defenses against water pollution which could harm us would vanish...mollusks, which are very sensitive to small amounts of pollution are today major and dependable pollution monitors.
  • Medicine would lose many of its pharmaceuticals and medical research test animals; lost too, for all time, would be future discoveries about these animals.
  • Manufacturing, like medicine, would lose a vast laboratory of new compounds and materials, present and future.
  • The food chain in the ocean would be greatly disrupted. Mollusks and their eggs and young are a major source of food for most of the fish of the world.
  • Even baiting your fish hook (if indeed fish remain after mollusks are gone) would be a different proposition without squid!

The amateur conchologist, would lose a much-beloved hobby, both relaxing and intellectually stimulating, because without mollusks, there would be no shell collecting, no shell observation, no shell photography. Even art and architecture would lose one of their prime sources of inspiration.

It is for these reasons that the Conchologists of America and its members believe that informed measures must be taken to conserve and protect mollusks. Informed measures are those that take into account the biology of mollusks, the threats to their various habitats, their recuperative powers, and the actual agents of their decline.