Coastal hatchery manager Provan Crump stands amidst tanks with different strands of house-grown algae in their greenhouse. The algae “microbrewery” is the “heart of the operation,” he says. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

Coastal hatchery manager Provan Crump stands amidst tanks with different strands of house-grown algae in their greenhouse. The algae “microbrewery” is the “heart of the operation,” he says. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

Indigenous-owned sustainable scallop farm gets licence

Prince Rupert-based Coastal Shellfish scallops will be sold live in B.C.

A shellfish aquaculture company headquartered in Prince Rupert hopes to have 15 million farmed scallops in the ocean this year.

“That’s one, five million,” Provan Crump confirmed over the noise of pumps and running water at the hatchery on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Crump is the hatchery manager of the First Nations-owned Coastal Shellfish company. Originally from Australia, he worked in commercial oyster hatcheries in Hawaii before coming to Coastal.

Coastal hatchery manager Provan Crump shines a light on shellfish eggs as small as grains of sand in one of their 25,000-litre tanks. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

“Right now there are about 4.5 to 5 million scallops in the water grown over the last five or so years,” he said. But they are spawning more.

They have nine, 25,000-litre tanks that hold thousands and thousands of eggs as small as grains of sand.

The eggs grow with as little bacteria as possible (Crump drops the tanks through tight screens every few days to keep water quality high) and are fed house-grown algae for 21 days until they are ready to metamorphosize into sedentary animals.

Adult-size Great Bear scallops at the Coastal Shellfish hatchery. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

When they’re strong enough to attach onto a kelp-like material, they enter into the nursery, grow, are graded and either go out to an ocean farm site where they filter feed in 12-layer, circular longline nets, or they’re kept protected in saltwater ponds for further rearing.

READ MORE: Indigenous stewards of the land, river and sea

With their pond progeny multiplying, it’s good timing that Coastal received its shellfish processing licence this week. Although, CEO Michael Uehara said it could have come in a bit sooner.

“There’s a labyrinth of regulatory stew that’s really difficult to get through,” Uehara told the Northern View. “I think this is the first licensed shellfish plant in 13 years or something.”

He said they started looking at the licence about five years ago, but the initiative died due to internal focus on farm stocks and a lack of external supports for the regulatory process.

Coastal hatchery manager Provan Crump (left) and CEO Michael Uehara peer into their saltwater ponds — their favourite place to view their progeny. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

“Very few people in Canada know how to do a processing licence for shellfish, so if you call [the Canadian Food Inspection Agency] … they’ll tell you to get a consultant,” Uehara said.

“There are a couple [consultants] in Canada that are fairly overtaxed, so in the end you have to devote almost a full-time person to study this on quite a high level to get it done.

“I would rather it be the last day of taxes at 4 ‘o clock in the afternoon and I had forgotten to file last year’s taxes than go through this with a year-and-a-half,” he said.

However, Uehara added it’s important to remember what the process is for: ensuring the health of Canadians and compliance with international regulations.

“Is it a daunting task? It certainly is,” he said. “Should it be less daunting? I don’t know.

“Sometimes these things do exist to ensure the well-being of people.”

READ MORE: Local scallops featured in Fukasaku chef’s chowdown chowder

After Coastal acquired its processing license, Fukasaku of Prince Rupert was the first client to buy live adult scallops from them.

“For us to be their first official local buyer, it means a lot to us and I’m so honoured and humbled,” said chef Dai Fukasaku. “I just got my first delivery [Tuesday] and the great thing about it is it was harvested [Monday], so it’s probably the freshest scallops ever.”

Going forward all of the Great Bear brand scallops will either be sold live in B.C. or fresh shucked on the west coast of North America, according to Uehara.

After they’re grown and graded, Coastal’s Great Bear brand scallops go out to an ocean farm site where they filter feed in 12-layer, circular long line nets. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

He said they’re still fleshing out their distribution method for Prince Rupert, but they will open sales to local markets in the next month or so.

The new licence and more markets also mean more jobs.

Coastal currently has about 40 employees, 75 per cent of whom are First Nations.

Now that they’re doing their own processing, Uehara said they’re going to create more jobs “that involve a lot more technological competence.”

Coastal’s broodstock system adds to the sustainability of the operation. Hatchery manager Provan Crump says they need to cool the water where their broodstock live, and with this machine, the heat produced by the cooling is captured and used to warm water where larval rearing takes place. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

“There are not a lot of fisheries that are expanding and this one is,” he said. “Along with that expansion I think is also the creation of jobs that are jobs of the future in this industry and they will be jobs that require a pretty high component of technical abilities.”

Uehara said they expect to be able to offer competitive wages out of the profitability of their product.

“Scallops are one of the highest-valued seafoods you can have,” he said, adding that their farm gate price will be somewhere between $1.70 and $1.90 per scallop.

Currently Coastal’s most productive ocean site, an experimental Metlakatla site from about 15 years ago, is a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride away. “It ends up being about $350,000 a year just to access that site,” says CEO Michael Uehara. Currently Coastal is angling to acquire a new site just 2 km from the hatchery. (Karissa Gall/The Northern View)

Ultimately, the proximity of future sites and the arc of the industry will factor into just how many jobs Coastal creates.

“As things stand right now we’re comfortable being the vertically-integrated organization that grows this industry,” he said. “But in 10 years this may evolve into a hatchery producing seed for growers, it could evolve into a processing facility for people who are farming their product and bringing it in.

“As we are a First Nations-owned industry, our shareholders are anxious to build this company, but they have a long-term view of growing an industry,” he added.

“The thing about scallop aquaculture or shellfish aquaculture is it’s environmentally restorative, and I think this is about restoring an economy of inclusion for First Nations on the North Coast, and also about restoring the oceans in which it happens.”



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read