In Florianópolis, southern Brazil, the venerid clam Anomalocardia brasiliana has supported subsistence and small-scale commercial fisheries for decades. The introduction of a hand dredge (gancho) since 1987 led to the development of a significant fishery supplying both local and regional shellfish markets. In 1992 one of the main fishing areas in the region was designated as the first Brazilian Marine Extractive Reserve (Pirajubaé RESEX), a federal form of governance intended to promote sustainable exploitation of natural resources by assigning exclusive fishing rights to traditional users. However, excessive fishing effort, institutional shortcomings and lack of a negotiated management plan have resulted in the overexploitation of the species since 2000. This study was aimed at evaluating the efficiency and selectivity of the hand dredge currently in use at the RESEX, through a field experiment conducted in October 2006. Quantitative samples of A. brasiliana were collected before and after dredging 15 experimental plots. Additional samples were obtained inside the dredge (catch) and respective cover cod-end (discard) for selectivity analysis. A single haul of the hand dredge can dislocate up to 76% of the individuals present in the sediment irrespective of their size, and retain up to 69% of the commercial-sized organisms. The gear has a knife-edge selection pattern, which enables the use of the minimum spacing between the iron bars of the dredge's basket as an effective management tool.