Coastal Shellfish – Sustainable First Nations Aquaculture
Through sustainable shellfish aquaculture, coastal First Nations are creating jobs to support local economies without depleting valuable resources and ecosystems.
Shellfish aquaculture is an industry identified by land and marine use plans as a key economic opportunity for many coastal communities. In 2003, First Nations began a study to identify the most suitable areas for shellfish aquaculture in each community. Small-scale farms were established in the best locations to test different shellfish species and sea scallops were discovered to be the most suited to the cold, clean waters of the Great Bear Rainforest.
In 2011, Coastal Shellfish was established with a multi-million-dollar investment from Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative and other partners. Together with a Chinese scallop aquaculture company, Coastal Shellfish built a modern shellfish hatchery in Prince Rupert, BC and began commercial trials with sea scallops. With the help of aquaculture experts from Chile, commercial success followed in 2013 and since then, the company has been rapidly expanding its farming capacity.
The Metlakatla Nation is a majority shareholder and operates a farm in its territory to grow the scallop seed. Coastal Shellfish has set a goal to increase production from approximately 500,000 to 15 million scallops per year.
The hatchery is also capable of supplying seed to farms to support other First Nations’ plans for shellfish aquaculture development. It has successfully spawned the giant geoduck clam and plans to supply future seed to First Nations’ farms on the Central and North Coast.