Hummingbird Cove Shellfish Hatchery
Small bird, big hatchery, big numbers, big impact.
365,000 square feet: A lot of space costs a lot to produce big clams in big numbers.
The Powell River Peak writes about a Chinese aquaculture firm, Pacific Aquaculture, which has followed the path set by Chinese energy firms who have invested in the west and elsewhere to ensure a steady supply of carbon based fuels far into the future. Pacific Aquaculture has currently invested $10 million in a shellfish hatchery which opened on the 19th. They plan to invest an additional $40 million over the next five years to create a shellfish facility which, at 365,000 square feet, will dwarf anything on the west coast, or most likely in the world. The project, in conjunction with Hummingbird Cove Lifestyles, was first described in Hatchery International in October of last year but was then far smaller.
US Shellfish Companies: Now just
big clams in a little tank?
We used to be the big clams here
In comparison to Pacific Aquacutlure's 365,000 square foot facility, Taylor Shellfish - purported to be the largest shellfish producer in the United States - has a hatchery on Dabob Bay estimated to be 30,000 square feet in size. Production facilities in Shelton are estimated at 27,000 square feet, with those at Samish Bay being estimated at 9,000 square feet. As noted, Pacific Aquacutlure's will be 365,000 square feet.
Aloha from Goose Point Oyster in Hawaii.
We'll always have the condo.
20,000 square feet is big?
Is that Aloha a hello or goodbye to profits in the shellfish industry?
Unlike the Taylor hatchery in Dabob Bay being able to adapt to what is currently felt to be problems caused by ocean acidification, the Nisbet family's Goose Point Oyster simply scaled back their "Whiskey Creek" hatchery facility in Willapa Bay and built a new 20,000 square foot facility in Hawaii. As the article in the Seattle Times notes, only a handful of hatcheries supply West Coast farmers, including Whiskey Creek and Taylor Shellfish. With a facility now in operation, which at 365,000 square feet will dwarf anything on the west coast, flooding the market with shellfish seed, including geoduck, how long can the profits in the shellfish industry be expected to last?
They said I'd make money. Why should I care?
I never promised you a shellfish garden.
Because shellfish companies no longer have tidelands to use, they lease tidelands from private individuals and promise "great" returns in exchange for encumbering their property, in some cases for decades. Any concerns about their role in the creation of these point sources of plastic pollution, loose nets, and fractured tideland ecosystems, along with fractured relationships with neighbors, many nurtured over generations, are diminished by the salve made from promises of monetary cream being rubbed onto these tideland owners' palms. The Chinese, however, through Pacific Aquaculture, will no longer be beholden to shellfish companies in the northwest supplying artificially constrained supplies, and inflated prices, of geoduck. Revenues will drop and the gravy train will stop. As investments in energy failed when supply overtook demand, so too will investments - and promises of riches - in the shellfish industry fail when oversupply drives prices down and the Chinese are able to supply themselves with geoduck. Leaving behind plastic tubes and structures, as Drakes Bay Oyster Company did when they walked away from Drakes Estero, leaving the taxpayers to clean up the remains.
Chinese do not like
paying artificially inflated prices
for geoduck so will grow their own.
Sorry, I don't think that was part of the permit.
Who will pick up what's left behind when companies are no longer profitable? This bubble is no different than any bubble which has preceeded it. It will pop. Pacific Aquaculture is a big pin with a strong hand pressing on the bubble. And when it pops, Puget Sound will be left with PVC, nets, and plastic to cleanup.
Demand that bonds be required for all shellfish farms currently permitted to guarantee Puget Sound is not left in the state Drakes Estero was when Drakes Bay Oyster Company decided it was best to just walk away, leaving taxpayers to pick up the mess.