Governance of Yellow Foot Clam: a case study of Ashtamudi Lake in Kerala

Azim Premji University,


Yellow foot Clam (Paphia malabarica) fishery of the Ashtamudi lake, one of the deepest lakes in Kerala supports the livelihoods of thousands of clam-collectors in the region. These clams are highly demanded in the international market and it enables the clam-collectors to generate their income through export began in late 80s. An increased export market demand exerted a lot of pressure on the resource which ultimately led to the depletion of clam resources. As a response to this unexpected decline in resource size and lost income, the clam collector community in Ashtamudi came forward to address the issue by forming a collective of clam-collectors at the village level. As a management strategy, they voluntarily abstained from fishing during the breeding season and demanded management of resource through a participatory mode of governance. After years of experience in the management of resource through voluntary measures, Ashtamudi clam resource entered a new régime of resource management. It got certified as sustainable” resource by the world’s largest marine wild-catch certification program, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which promotes the governance of marine fisheries resources through market incentives. This study is an attempt to understand these varied and unique governance régime experiences of clam resource from participatory to market-based systems and the implications of these governance regimes in the property rights, livelihoods and social development of clam-collectors of Ashtamudi.