When the Coastal First Nations created land and marine use plans for the Great Bear Rainforest, with an eco-system based management approach for economic development, shellfish aquaculture was identified as the top economic initiative for many of the coastal communities. A Shellfish Initiative began in 2003 in the north coast region, with biophysical surveys in the marine environment to identify the most suitable areas for shellfish aquaculture for each First Nation community. Small-scale farms were then established in these locations to test different shellfish species, including mussels, oysters and scallops. The results of this 7-year R&D phase concluded that sea scallops were the shellfish most suited to the cold, clean waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.
Coastal Shellfish was created in 2011 to commercialize the Shellfish Initiative with a multi-million dollar investment from the Coastal First Nations and other partners. Together with a Chinese scallop aquaculture company, Coastal Shellfish built a modern shellfish hatchery on BC’s north coast, and began commercial trials with sea scallops. Large-scale production in the first two years proved to be a difficult technical challenge, but commercial success was achieved in 2013 thanks to scallop aquaculture experts from Chile who joined the Coastal Shellfish team.
Coastal Shellfish’s head office was established in Prince Rupert, where the hatchery and seafood processing operations are located. A strong management team is in place with decades of experience in the aquaculture and seafood industry. In 2014, Coastal Shellfish raised additional investment capital and has been rapidly expanding its farming capacity, to grow its production from around a half million scallops per year to 15 million scallops per year in the next several years.
In addition to expanding production at its sustainable scallop farms on BC’s north coast, Coastal Shellfish’s hatchery is also capable of supporting other First Nation’s plans for scallop aquaculture by supplying seed to other scallop farms. Along with the supply of healthy scallop seed, Coastal Shellfish’s scallop experts are available to provide consulting services on farm development, training programs, scallop husbandry, and other operational details.
Coastal Shellfish has also spawned the giant geoduck clam in its hatchery and will be supplying seed in the future to First Nations’ geoduck farms on the central and north coast of BC. Geoduck seed for other regions is available on a contract basis.
Come back and visit us for more news on future developments at Coastal Shellfish!