A shellfish hatchery located south of Powell River, expected to open last spring, has faced delays.
Dan Dyble has been working as a consultant for Hummingbird Cove Lifestyles and said he is helping business owners Xi Ping Ding and her husband Zhiyi Chen to make their way through a myriad of licences and approvals from three levels of government.
Ding is from Dalian, Liaoning, in the People’s Republic of China, and has experience growing sea cucumbers. The hatchery is located right next to Saltery Bay Provincial Park.
“We have run into some problems,” said Dyble. “There aren’t a lot of applications that go into the government for hatcheries and people in the government aren’t always clear, but to be fair there have been delays on both sides.”
Dyble said the more than $10-million project had hoped to get all the required ocean construction licences last fall and be able to have begun production for last spring.
Jinde Lan, who also works for Ding as her assistant, said that once the hatchery facility is complete, they will start with Japanese scallops and then move into growing sea cucumbers and geoducks.
“There’s a lot of regulations and it takes quite a bit of time to process,” said Lan. “It took longer than we expected to get our water intake line approved.”
When complete, the hatchery will include two longer buildings for growing seed and algae used to feed the scallops, and other smaller buildings used for water tanks as part of the flow-through system.
Intake pipes will bring sea water up to the facility about 200 metres away, then an outflow pipe will return effluent water back to the ocean several metres below the surface at low tide.
Dyble explained that very little construction in the water can be done in the summer because of the impact it has on ocean species.
“There’s a sensitivity in the water that has driven the latest delays,” he said.
The hatchery will take scallop seed and grow them under controlled conditions in the hatchery’s flow through tanks and allow them to grow to a large enough size for West Coast growers to buy.
Dyble said the hatchery will be the largest on the West Coast and allow BC shellfish growers to purchase their seeds locally, instead of having it imported from Australia or Chile.
For decades, there has been a shortage of hatchery capacity on the West Coast, he said. “We want to have the seed be local,” said Dyble.
Construction is expected to increase in the fall and he said the company hopes to have product for sale in the spring.
City of Powell River manager of economic development Scott Randolph said he is optimistic about the Hummingbird Cove hatchery and land-based aquaculture in Powell River. The company and the city have been in talks about expanding the project within city boundaries, he said.
“To have that level of investment in that sector in our region is significant and a good first step,” said Randolph.
He added that land-based aquaculture is a good example of an industry that can be developed in the Powell River region. “We think that is [a direction] where industry is going to go eventually.”