Oyster farmers from British Columbia’s coastal communities are seeing increased opportunities and stability in the oyster industry, stemming from funding through the BC Oyster Recovery Fund.
“B.C. oyster farmers are resilient people who are working hard to bring stability back to the province’s oyster industry,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Through support from the BC Oyster Recovery Fund, the people who work in this growing sector are rising above the challenges they faced last season, ensuring B.C. will be able to offer high quality, great tasting oysters to British Columbians and global markets.”
Popham has embarked on a two-day oyster farm tour to meet with local oyster farmers and discuss the progress of their recovery efforts. The tour’s first stop is at Stellar Bay Shellfish in Bowser, then Sawmill Bay Shellfish on Quadra Island, with the final stop at Little Wing Oysters in the Okeover Inlet on the northern Sunshine Coast.
Oyster farmer Yves Perreault of Little Wing Oysters led a successful harvest of quality oysters with the support he received from the BC Oyster Recovery Fund. The province’s support also allowed him to maintain employment levels and keep jobs in his community during the challenging season.
Sawmill Bay Shellfish oyster farmer Steve Pocock was able to re-seed his oyster farm with funding from the BC Oyster Recovery Fund. After facing a difficult season and a loss in sales due to oyster market closures, the family-owned company could prepare to provide fresh, locally produced and processed oysters to be sold directly to restaurants in B.C.
The $1.3-million BC Oyster Recovery Fund, announced in June 2018, supports the stability of the sector through oyster stock re-seeding efforts. Additionally, the funding will support a marine norovirus pilot research survey that will monitor the travel patterns of pathogens through Baynes Sound and initiate research for the potential development of an early-warning system for pathogen transfer.
Since June, 59 applications submitted by B.C. oyster farmers have been approved and a total of $516,913 in funding has been processed.
Darlene Winterburn, executive director, BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA) –
“The Oyster Recovery Fund is making a significant difference for farmers up and down our coastlines. BCSGA members continue to reach out to me to express their thanks for the Province’s support — support that helped them reinvest in oyster seed and sustain farm operations during a difficult period. The fund has raised confidence and helped provide stability for many of our smaller farmers. Interest from our members remains high, and I feel certain members will continue to apply as they meet the criteria.”
Yves Perreault, oyster farmer, Little Wing Oysters –
“The Oyster Recovery Fund has been a tremendous help for us. It allowed us to keep all our employees at a difficult time. We were able to keep up with the excellent growing season we had, and now even though sales are slow, we have a fair amount of good quality product ready for sale which we have no doubt we'll be able to find a market for.”
Steve Pocock, oyster farmer, Sawmill Bay Shellfish –
“The Oyster Recovery Fund has helped Sawmill Bay re-seed our oyster farm in a year where cash flow has been tight due to market closures.”
- B.C.’s farmed shellfish harvest totalled 9,300 tonnes in 2016, and made up 40% of the provincial shellfish harvest.
- Oyster sales in B.C. represent more than half of the shellfish aquaculture industry’s value and generate $30 million in wholesale value.
For application details and criteria for the BC Oyster Recovery Fund, visit: https://www.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/bc-oyster-recovery-fund
BC Shellfish Growers Association: http://bcsga.ca/
Little Wing Oysters: http://www.bcoysterguide.com/little-wing/
Sawmill Bay Shellfish: http://www.sawmillbay.ca/