Aquaculture & Tourism

Shellfish farming takes place in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of British Columbia.  Not surprisingly, the operation of an oyster, clam or mussel farm is unfamiliar to most people, thus presenting a unique and interesting attraction for visitors to these communities.During the summer months farmers out working on beaches and rafts are regularly hailed by passing boaters and kayakers who are all too keen to know about the growing of these exiting products and to talk to local people about the work they do.  There are developments in some shellfish growing areas to put this on a more formal footing, with farm tours, festivals, and interpretive displays.

Tourism operators in shellfish farming areas such as Baynes Sound, Cortes Island, Okeover Inlet, Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound have a strong interest in extending their (at present rather short) tourist season by linking with shellfish farm activities.  All kinds of tourism related activities can gain by having an added activity in their community – accommodation, eco-tourism guides, craft stores and artisans, restaurants and transportation providers can all benefit.

A good example of this kind of activity is the annual Comox Valley Shellfish Festival (every June), the Cortes Island OysterFest, the Ladysmith Oyster Festival and the Clayoquot Oyster Growers Festival (and Oyster Gala), held every year in Tofino at the end of November.  As well as celebrating area seafood through the participation of local chefs, these festivals include literature, wine, music, and storytelling.  Good times indeed.

The potential exists for tourism signage welcoming visitors to “Oyster Country”, for the revival and growth of Oyster Festivals, for day trips to cruise line passengers at their various stop-overs near growing areas and how about farm-vacations or “you pick” clam beaches? Opportunities are only limited by your imagination.