Seed money and research to grow B.C. shellfish industry

B.C.’s shellfish aquaculture industry currently produces 11,000 million tonnes a year with a wholesale value of $57 million.

The B.C. government is partnering with the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA), Vancouver Island University and the Hakai Institute to address issues of food supply security and climate change affecting the shellfish industry.

The partnership will include efforts to boost the local production of high quality and disease resistant oyster seed, expand climate change monitoring capacity and to develop a business case outlining priority areas for investment and action in the future. The OASISS (Ocean Acidification Shellfish Industry Seed Supply) project was developed to achieve these goals.

The B.C. government is providing $200,000 to initiate OASISS and to support the sector’s capacity building efforts. The OASISS project funding includes:

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick said B.C.’s shellfish growers offer excellent products that support economic growth and jobs in communities up and down our coast, and the B.C. government is standing with them and providing support to help that continue for the long-term.

“The funding and partnership we share with VIU and B.C.’s shellfish growers will help everyone learn more about the impacts of climate change on B.C. shellfish, ensure we are doing the very most for food safety, and playing a greater role in the local production of seed stock,” he said.

“ These actions, and a targeted business plan will ensure B.C.’s shellfish industry can continue to invest in their production and meet growing market demands for the great tasting shellfish produced in B.C.”

Darlene Winterburn, Executive Director, BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA) said shellfish farming presents a unique opportunity to fill the growing gap between food supply and worldwide demand in an ecologically sustainable way.

Daniela Fischer Russell, Associate Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology, Vancouver Island University said this collaboration will foster the economic development of the shellfish industry in our region including First Nations communities; decrease B.C.’s reliance on foreign oyster seed and increase food security through the development of hardier brood stock with enhanced disease resistance.

The current federal-provincial program, Growing Forward 2, committed an estimated $427 million to support the B.C. agrifoods sector from 2013 to 2018.

B.C.’s shellfish aquaculture industry currently produces 11,000 million tonnes a year with a wholesale value of $57 million.

B.C.’s farmed shellfish harvest increased close to seven per cent in 2015 to 11,000 tonnes.

The wholesale value of farmed shellfish rose over 13% in 2015 to $57.2 million.

In 2015, B.C. produced more than $40 million of farmed oysters, almost $11 million of farmed clams, and $5.5 million of mussels and other shellfish.