Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seafood Summit: Vancouver Island Shellfish Aquaculture Field Trip

The 2011 Seafood Summit kicked off early Saturday morning with 33 Summit attendees aboard a bus en route to Vancouver Island.  Despite the early hour, spirits were high as we embarked on an overnight adventure to learn about various shellfish farming operations on Vancouver Island. 

Pulling up nets with farmed scallops.
Leading the field trip were Bill Taylor, Bill Dewey and Jon Rowley of Taylor Shellfish Farms who run operations for Taylor Shellfish on Vancouver Island as well as in Seattle, Washington.  Aboard the ferry to Vancouver Island, Bill Dewey explained how ocean acidification is affecting the shellfish on their farms and how they’ve had to adapt to ensure longevity and sustainability of the shellfish, as well as their business. 

The idea of adapting to changing ocean chemistry was resonated by other shellfish farmers and fishermen we visited along the way, though ocean acidification isn’t the only thing they’re up against.  Land based runoff, natural predators and disease are also issues of daily concern when operating shellfish farms in the Pacific North West.

After lunch at Fanny Bay Inn, where legendary oyster burgers were served, and excursions to several shellfish farming facilities, attendees settled down for Q&A with folks from Taylor Shellfish and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Ocean.  There was great dialogue and lots of thought provoking questions among participants and everyone was very engaged in learning.

But there was also so fun to be had, and Bill, Bill & Jon had set up a lantern-lit wine and oyster tasting on the beach.  Attendees got to shuck fresh picked oysters and enjoy local wines and no one seemed to mind that it was very cold, very dark and their shoes and socks were soaked.  

The evening concluded with a trip to the brand new Vancouver Island University Marine Field Station – a facility designed with the surrounding environment in mind, including the ocean – and a delicious meal of fresh shellfish right out of the Bay prepared by Vancouver Island Culinary Institute students led by chef Xihn Dwelley of Xinh's Clam & Oyster House in Shelton, Washington.  The station is two weeks away from its public debut, but station manager, Brian Kingzett, made a special exception for Summit attendees so he could show off all the beautiful, eco-friendly new building, the great science research work they’re doing, and the delicious culinary expertise of the students. The Field Station will afford VI University marine science students the opportunity to conduct field research in Deep Bay and lab work in the lower level of the field station.  Some of the students were on hand to tell us about their research and explain the unique centerpieces at each table (shown above right).  Each flask held water and live shellfish from the bay and next to it was a flask with murky, algae-filled water.  The students advised us to pour the ‘dirty’ water into the larger shellfish-filled flask and watch them go to work.  By the end of the delectable meal the water was clear again – a creative demonstration of the important ecosystem services shellfish provide.

Special thanks to Bill Taylor, Bill Dewey, Jon Rowley, Brian Kingzett, Brian Yip and Philip Chou for making the field trip a very memorable one for participants.

We're looking forward to officially welcoming everyone to the Summit and getting everyone checked in at registration this afternoon.  More to come as we talk sustainable seafood at this year's Seafood Summit!


  1. Great post and I'm impressed it's up already! Looking forward to a great conference. Already have had some thoughtful discussions at the #ss11 tweetup. Thanks for all the hard work that's gone on/is going on behind the scenes to make this work!

  2. We have been looking forward to this Summit with great enthusiasm, to take part in the momentum gathering for sustainable seafood around the world!