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:
- Vancouver Island University receiving $50,000 to expand its oyster seed production capacity within the Deep Bay Marine Station (DBMS). This infrastructure will be used to support a selective breeding program targeting the development of brood stock with improved resistance to disease and environmental changes. The DBMS will supply producers with seed that is better adapted to local growing conditions.
- The BCSGA receiving $75,000 for new equipment for ocean monitoring and to continue to work with the Hakai Institute to develop baseline data to better understand the local impacts of climate change.
The BCSGA will also receive an additional $75,000 to work with their members to develop a business case and plan for further investments in food safety improvements, research to better understand foodborne illness in shellfish, business risk management strategies, and economic development opportunities.
The $200,000 in immediate support parallels the B.C. government’s ongoing efforts to negotiate with the Government of Canada to make the seafood and shellfish industry eligible for federally-provincially funded programs that support long-term strategic investments in areas, such as food safety, business development, capacity building, innovation, and research.
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.
Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick –
“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. 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 –
“Support from the Ministry of Agriculture and our partners in this research, Vancouver Island University and the Hakai Institute, will help industry improve capacity, increase self-sufficiency and learn more about the environment in which we farm. 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 –
“VIU is honoured to engage in this strategic partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the BC Shellfish Growers Association. 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. This funding will support VIU's capacity in applied teaching and research. We look forward to expanding our contribution to this important sector of the B.C. economy.”
- 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.