A New Zealand marine biologist says drastic measures must be taken to save giant clam populations in the Pacific, which he says are on the brink of extinction in much of the region.
Dr Charley Waters has spent the past 12 years researching and working to restore giant clam populations in Aitutaki lagoon in the Cook Islands.
He says for many years, clams have been harvested for local and international markets faster than they can reproduce, and populations are now critically depleted.
"I use the term functionally extinct. While there is still some clams left in the lagoon, their distances are too far apart for reproduction to occur. Global organisations have listed them as threatened or endangered. As opposed to saying densities are too low for populations to remain viable."
Dr Charley Waters says he has concerns that giant clams can fetch up to five hundred US dollars on the international market.