Shellfish aquaculture is the farming (i.e., cultivation and harvest) of aquatic invertebrates, such as oysters, clams and mussels. Cultivation implies involvement in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking and protection from predators. Shellfish farming has been a part of British Columbia’s history for over 100 years. The systems used to farm shellfish have evolved from purely beach to technology-based systems that are designed for specific species and farming sites.
Shellfish begin their lives as larvae that mature into seed and/or juvenile animals. The farm cycle begins with the collection of larvae, which may be gathered in the wild or produced from hatchery broodstock (depending on the species and location).
Farmers acquire clam and oyster seed at various stages of its development – depending on the requirements of the tenure and farming operations. The seed is put into a nursery environment where it is nurtured into juvenile animals. Generally speaking, the juvenile animals then graduate to the growout phase of their development.