Geoducks freshly harvested off remote waters in B.C. ( Photo by Geoduck from Canada)

B.C.’s $50 million geoduck industry hit after China’s market slumps

With more than 90 per cent of the time-sensitive harvest exported to China, geoduck harvesters see a 40 per cent business drop

The $50 million industry surrounding Canada’s “presentationally challenged” Pacific coast clam has been smacked hard by the coronavirus.

Geoducks, which gained a jolt of worldwide notoriety due to Prince William’s polite description during a 2016 visit to B.C., faced a swift blow when China shut its borders at the end of January.

“Business is down by 40 per cent ” said James Austin, president of Underwater Harvesters Association, adding that China’s economic market, which plummeted after the pandemic, has a huge direct effect on the Canadian geoduck industry.

While the the large, ridiculous-looking mollusk — the largest burrowing clam in the world — does not generate a huge demand near home waters, it is a much-sought-after delicacy in Asia. More than 90 per cent of geoducks harvested in B.C. are exported and sold to Chinese markets where the demand is huge, apparently due to its aphrodisiac properties.

Sold for anywhere between $20-$30 per pound prior to the pandemic, the price has now dropped by 30 per cent said Austin.

The high price is due to highly specialized harvesting procedures and the agile nature of its distribution. Fresh, live geoducks are supplied to Asian markets within 24 hours after being harvested by experienced divers and boxed at federally approved facilities in Vancouver.

Timely delivery plays a crucial role in the demand, said Austin. When airlines cut back international operations in February, licensed geoduck harvesters had to leave 450,000 lbs (204,000 kg) of their annual allowable catch underwater.

“There was no point in harvesting them as there was no market at that time,” said Austin, who added that the quota that was supposed to be harvested by Feb. 28, had to be extended and was completed only by May 15.

Since direct flights to China were suspended, alternative air routes had to be identified to deliver geoducks into mainland China via Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Harvested from depths of 20 to 30 metres, geoducks are found in remote waters around Vancouver Island including those around Tofino, Barkley Sound, Port McNeil and Port Hardy, as well as off Haida Gwaii and mainland B.C.

Harvesting is done year-round, to extract an annual quota of three million pounds. Before COVID-19, an average of between 10,000 lbs to 30,000 lbs of geoduck was exported every day from B.C. The demand spikes further during festivals, especially Chinese new year, Austin said.

ALSO IN NEWS: B.C.’s new COVID-19 cases total 29 during the past three days

ALSO IN NEWS: Six people arrested during Port McNeill drug investigation

Chinavancouverisland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Savard prevails with best gross score at Alberni Golf Club

Men’s club prepares for ‘waltz’ on July 12

EDITORIAL: We need to check our ‘plate hate’

Suspicious border activity can be reported

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Residents oppose changes to parking at Port Alberni apartment unit

Tenants also say maintenance needs to be done before expansion should happen

QUINN’S QUIPS: Hawks’ nests halt logging in Alberni Valley Community Forest

Biologists will take two years to study nest site, says forest manager

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Time to protect B.C.’s unique glass sponge reefs, conservation group says

Climate change is a “serious and immediate threat” to the 9,000-year old sponges: study

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

Most Read