News Releases

BC Industry Snapshot – BC Shellfish

By Linda Hiemstra, on behalf of Comox Valley Economic Development

June 1, 2016

Shellfish Farming

The BC shellfish farming industry produces scallops, oysters, mussels, geoduck, Manila and other clams, forming a $37 million industry with over 1,000 full-time jobs.

BC is the leading oyster producing province in Canada – contributing over 45% of the farm gate value of $27.3 million in 2013. The Pacific oyster is the most widely cultured oyster in the world and was introduced to BC from Japan specifically for aquaculture in the early 1900s.

BC produces 87% of clams cultured in Canada, making it Canada’s number one clam producing province. The aquaculture industry farms Manila clam, varnish clam, littleneck clam and geoduck. The farm-gate value of clam farming in Canada is $8.1 million and BC dominates with a value of $7 million.

Scallop, mussel and geoduck production in 2014 was 2,000 tonnes for a wholesale value of $20 million.

Fish Farming

BC fish farmers produce Atlantic salmon, Chinook and Coho salmon, sablefish, trout and steelhead, and sturgeon using hatcheries, marine farms and land-based recirculating aquaculture systems.

Canada is the fourth-largest producer of farmed salmon in the world and BC grows 58% of the Canadian supply. Farmed salmon in BC, which also includes farmed Chinook and Coho salmon, had a wholesale value of $538 million in 2014.

Farmed salmon is Canada’s third-largest seafood export by value and is BC’s largest agri-food export. 

BC has 60-70 salmon farms operational at any given time, accounting for almost 60% of the total landed value of seafood in BC. The industry has a total economic impact of more than $1.14 billion for the provincial economy and generates about 5,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in rural coastal communities.

Marine and freshwater culture of sablefish, trout, steelhead and sturgeon had a wholesale value of $15.3 million in 2014.

Wild Capture Fisheries

Commercial fisheries, a significant contributor to the provincial economy, harvest more than 80 different species of finfish, shellfish, and marine plants from both freshwater and marine environments.

Five species of wild Pacific salmon are harvested. Trollers use hooks and lines to harvest five species of salmon and account for about 25% of the total commercial harvest. Seine boats use large nets to encircle the fish and catch mainly sockeye, pink and chum salmon for about 50% of the harvest. Gillnets are

attached to small boats situated mainly near or in BC’s rivers. Gillnetters primarily catch sockeye and chum salmon and account for about 25% of the total harvest.

In 2014, 2,166 licenses were issued for wild salmon and the industry employed about 6,600 people. BC exported wild caught salmon to 53 different countries, generating a wholesale value of almost $311 million in 2014.

There are seven distinct commercial groundfish fisheries in BC: groundfish trawl, halibut, sablefish, inside and outside rockfish, lingcod, and dogfish harvesting over 20 different fish species from 60 different stocks. The trawl fishery, the largest producer of groundfish, harvests rockfish, cod, and sole. Smaller vessels fish halibut, sablefish, dogfish, lingcod, flatfish and rockfish on long lines.  In 2014, the landed value of groundfish in BC was $116 million.

Pacific herring are the most abundant fish on Canada’s Pacific coast and are a key component in the marine ecosystem as food for many other species, including salmon. The food and bait, roe, and spawn-on-kelp herring fisheries had a landed value of $15.7 million in 2014.

The 45 licenses in the Canadian albacore jig fishery produced a landed value of $14.9 million in 2014 and are part of either the coastal fleet that operates within the Canadian and United States fishing zones or the high seas fleet that operate with larger vessels and are often at sea for several months.

Clam, crab, geoduck, scallops, sea cucumber, urchins, shrimp and prawns are harvested from BC intertidal beaches and ocean. This diverse fishery produced a wholesale value of $216 million in 2014.

Six species of shrimp and prawns are harvested using trawl or traps providing a combined wholesale value $71 million in 2014.

Geoduck, urchins and sea cucumbers are harvested by divers. The geoduck fishery is one of our most valuable invertebrate fisheries with an annual harvest of over 1,500 tonnes with a wholesale value of $44 million. Red and green urchins are harvested for their roe which is sold in Japan and China for a wholesale value of almost $17 million. Divers also handpick sea cucumbers during a short eight-week harvest season that provided a landed value of almost $7 million in 2014.

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Media Contact:

Lara Greasley, Manager and Communications
Comox Valley Economic Development and Tourism
Office: 250-334-2427  Ext: 233