Climate change is adversely impacting local efforts to develop and grow B.C.'s shellfish aquaculture industry.
Don Tillapaugh, director of Vancouver Island University's Centre for Shellfish Research, said global warning is causing difficulties in the shellfish seed hatcheries in the U.S. that many local aquaculture farms rely on for their operations.
He said that global warming is increasingly changing the chemistry in the planet's oceans that are causing unexpected and lethal damage to shellfish larvae "at a critical stage" in their development.
Tillapaugh said efforts have already begun to mitigate the problem and he's "confident" that solutions will be found to deal with the issue at the farms, but he indicated that the issue is playing a large part in keeping the industry from reaching the goals that it established for itself more than a decade ago.
He is also concerned about the future of wild shellfish stocks as climate change continues.
"This is not something we envisioned when the CSR was established (in 2001) and it has just come up over the last few years," Tillapaugh said.
"We're working together with our industry partners to understand the problem and I'm confident that we'll find a solution that will ensure the supply of seeds from the farms into the future to help the local industry. Shellfish products from B.C. are selling well across North America and Asia and we want that to continue."
After research into the shellfish aquaculture industry's potential in B.C., the provincial government's Shellfish Development Initiative announced in 1998 the industry, worth about $30 million at the time, had the potential to be worth about $100 million and this could create more than 1,000 jobs in coastal communities.
The mainstay of the industry in B.C. was the farming of Pacific oysters and Manila clams but the SDI concluded the province's coast was ideal for the farming of a host of other shellfish species, including mussels and scallops.
Based on the SDI's findings, the CSR, a partnership between VIU and the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association, was established in 2001 with a mission to help diversify and expand the industry and create healthy and vibrant coastal communities in the province through sustainable shellfish farming.
[Daily News] / Don Tillapaugh, director of Vancouver Island University's Centre for Shellfish Research.;
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