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Master of Environmental Science and Management: Master's Group Project

Developing a Site Suitability Framework for Shellfish Aquaculture on Canada’s Pacific Coast

Offshore mussel farm and boat

Group Members: Emiliano Espinoza, Halley McVeigh, Caitie Reza, Mariano Viz, Tom Wheeler

Faculty Advisors: Christopher Costello

Client: ScootScience




Fed by rich waters of the North Pacific, the diverse marine habitat along Canada’s Pacific coast encompasses an array of ecologically unique and culturally diverse communities. This unique coastline supports a growing number of shellfish aquaculture tenures which have the potential to generate sustainable economic development for remote coastal communities if sited and operated with consideration for social and environmental impacts. To date, shellfish aquaculture development has fallen short of targets set by British Columbia’s government in 1998 and there exists an ongoing disparity between the number of shellfish aquaculture tenures along the North and Central Coast and the more developed Southern regions. In tandem, coastal First Nations communities are continuing to gain more sovereignty over coastal development of their traditional territories and many of these communities are investmenting in new shellfish aquaculture operations.

This project has two main objectives (1) identify existing barriers and contextual factors influencing shellfish aquaculture development for First Nations rights and title holders and other regional stakeholders and (2) develop a framework for identifying suitable locations for new shellfish aquaculture development along British Columbia’s coastline with consideration for biophysical, economic, and cultural parameters. Using this framework, we aim to develop a digital interface that can be used to geospatially visualize suitable areas for future shellfish aquaculture development. Our goal is then to have this tool be used by First Nations rights and title holders and other regional stakeholders, when applicable, to identify suitable areas for future development. It will ideally improve understanding of development disparity between regions and improve Scoot Science’s (Scoot) understanding of key considerations for evaluating locations for new aquaculture development. This project will build upon foundational spatial planning efforts by the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) in 2015 and will aim to provide actionable insights at the farm level.

PhD mentor: Casey O'Hara

Client contacts: Iwen Su, Jonathan LaRiviere

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