Businesswoman among country’s best

Comox Valley businesswoman Lourdes Gant has been ranked among the top five female entrepreneurs in Canada.

Gant, vice-president of Manatee Holdings, made the 16th annual W100 ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, released in September. Produced by PROFIT, Canadian Business and Chatelaine, the W100 ranks Canada’s top female entrepreneurs on a composite score based on the size, growth rate and profitability of their businesses. The W100 profiles the country’s most successful female business owners. Continue reading

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Pioneering Sustainable Beneficial Change

Our company, Manatee Holdings Ltd. helped to pioneer the dive fisheries into place in British Columbia, Canada in the late ‘70’s. These dive fisheries specialize in using commercial divers to harvest gourmet foods from the sea, such as geoduck, urchin, and sea cucumber.

There is a scientific paper, soon to be in print, that examines 140 fisheries around the world that have either collapsed or are on the brink of doing so. One reason why this is happening to our fisheries is because it is not humanly possible to realistically determine the natural recruitment rate of each species being fished. The ocean is just too vast, complex, and dynamic to be that easily understood by mere human beings.

Instead of accepting this, however, the biological managers of each fishery tend to create methodologies for determining natural recruitment that are really nothing more than studies in jumping to conclusions based on insufficient information, then camouflaging that fact with self-serving, self-deluding, esoteric mathematics.

In 1988 we became concerned that the dive fisheries in B.C. were collapsing the natural stocks. So we decided to do something about it. We focused on creating solutions that did away with the necessity to “guesstimate” natural recruitment. And we also looked for ways to address natural problems causing excessive mortality.

Urchins, for example, tend to feed on the hold-fast (root) of seaweed. The rest of the weed then breaks free, never to return. The reef becomes barren, and the urchin dies. This compounds the damage being done to the natural urchin stocks by a fishery operating under an unsustainable management plan.

There’s a simple way around this: First, plant a series of poles along the reef. Then string a rope along the top of the poles, and plant into the rope the seed of the species of weed the urchins love to eat. If we allow the sea weed to grow down to the reef to be fed on by urchin seed we culture in the shellfish hatchery that we built, then our system of production becomes sustainable. We call this management model a “Feed Line Urchin Ranch.” These urchins will spawn back into the “Common Resource” before harvest, which will help to rebuild the wild fishery.

Often found just below the urchin reefs are geoduck clams growing in areas of sandy substrate. The wild geoduck fishery has mined out many of these natural geoduck beds. We are replanting these mined out beds back up to their natural densities with cultured geoduck seed grown in our hatchery. Unlike traditional land based food production systems that destroy the natural ecology of a forest in order to intensively culture plants and animals for profit, our geoduck and urchin production models fit into the surrounding natural ecology.

Then there are sea cucumbers, often referred to as “the earthworms of the sea.” Like earthworms, sea cucumbers feed on rotting organic material, helping to maintain a healthy ocean’s ecology. They also like to feed on the pseudofaeces produced by both urchins and geoducks.

A healthy adult sea cucumber can move faster than its natural predator, the sunstar, just as a healthy caribou can outrun a wolf. The problem is that juvenile sea cucumbers can’t outrun the star, and they get eaten by the millions. We have created nurseries for cultured sea cucumber seed that are made up of recycled bags of oyster shells placed on the bottom of the ocean where the sandy substrate meets the edge of the rocky reef. When the cucumber seed grows to a size where it has to leave the safety of our nursery refuge, they hide out under the weed growing down from our weed planted line along the top of the reef. They then get to feed, not only on the rotting bits of weed dropping down from their protective canopy, but also on the pseudofaeces of the urchins.

Once the sea cucumbers are large enough to venture out onto the sandy substrate they also get to feed on the pseudofaeces of the geoducks. Allowing the sea cucumbers to free range is our way of determining what the best density should be in each area that we develop. This approach also allows us to fit our sea cucumber production model into the natural ecology of the surrounding area.

There are other ways in which this production model is beneficial to the ocean’s ecology. If one assumes that global warming is taking place, that excessive human production of carbon dioxide is a major factor in that warming, and that the surface of the ocean is the largest membrane in the world for absorbing excessive carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, then one can see that this absorbed carbon dioxide is being precipitated out in a benign solid form as calcium carbonate in the shells of the geoduck and urchin with the process releasing oxygen back into the system. In short, these animals are acting as organic heat sinks, helping to offset global warming.

Geoducks feed on algae. Algae are being overproduced along many in shore areas because of excessive nutrient run off from the septic systems of human occupation. Aquaculturing millions of geoduck clams in these areas helps to bring the ocean’s algae production back into balance. Sea cucumbers, feeding on rotting organic matter produced from human overpopulation, help our oceans just as earthworms help our gardens.

All of this is why we say that, to the best of our knowledge, we are the most environmentally beneficial, organic, food production operation, on land or sea, anywhere in the world.

From a business standpoint, the profit potential is massive. Geoducks have gone from 25 cents a pound to over $20 a pound to the grower, and can sell for several hundred dollars apiece in the Far East. Shanghai alone could probably absorb the entire world’s production of geoduck and not see the price drop 10%. Yet our geoduck fishery here in B.C. has shrunk to less than a quarter of what it once was in 1988. Dried sea cucumber can sell for thousands of dollars a kilogram. It is expected that there will be a 30,000 tonne shortfall in world sea cucumber demand over the next five years. But our entire sea cucumber fishery here in B.C. produces less than 100 tonnes of finished product each year. Urchin Uni is highly prized in the sushi market as one of the finest tasting, most complete, and most easily digested proteins in the world. Seaweeds are becoming increasingly valuable in a multitude of ways.

Over the past twenty five years we have encountered great resistance from people unwilling to adapt to beneficial change. They have caused a massive amount of financial and ecological damage over the years. Certain individuals within government, for example, want to believe that their job of guesstimating natural recruitment is “scientific”. They see what we are doing as a threat to their future because our production model makes their role incidental to the governmental system rather than fundamental. Some environmental groups have become publicity junkies more interested in their next fix than in the truth. Some of the fishermen don’t want to believe that fishing is fast becoming obsolete; and, they want to maintain their monopolistic control over the food supply. All these, and others, want their old ways to continue. But, like so many facets of our modern economy, the status quo of our dive fisheries here in B.C. is simply not sustainable.

Our mandate is to be profitable ecological caretakers of the sea creating sustainable biological gold mines. We need like-minded individuals and organizations willing to help us, both politically and financially, to build upon the foundational groundwork that we have laid into place over the past twenty five years.

To learn more, please visit www.manateeholdings.com or email manateeholdings@gmail.com

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Pioneering sustainable, beneficial change in aquaculture

There is a scientific paper, soon to be in print, that examines 140 fisheries around the world that have either collapsed in the past few years, or are on the brink of doing so. One reason why this is happening to our fisheries is because it is not humanly possible to realistically determine the natural recruitment rate of each species being fished. The ocean is too vast, complex, and dynamic to be that easily determined by mere human beings. Instead of accepting this, the biological managers of each fishery tend to create methodologies for determining natural recruitment that are nothing more than study in jumping to conclusions on insufficient evidence, and camouflage that fact with self-serving, self-deluding, esoteric mathematics.

In 1988, our company Manatee Holdings Ltd. decided to do something about this because we were concerned that the dive fisheries in B.C. harvesting geoducks, sea cucumber and urchins were actually collapsing the stocks. We focused on creating solutions that did away with the necessity to “guesstimate” natural recruitment. We also looked for ways to address natural problems causing excessive mortality.

Urchins, for example,tend to feed on the hold-fast (root) of the weed. The rest of the weed then breaks free, never to return. The reef becomes barren, and the urchin dies.

But if weplant a series of poles along the reef, string a rope along the top of the poles, plant nutritious seed of the types of sea weed the urchins love to eat, and allow it to grow down to the reef to be fed on by the urchin seed we culture in our hatchery the system becomes sustainable. We callthis a “Feed Line Urchin Ranch”.

Geoducks grow in sandy substrate areas, often foundjust below the urchin reefs. Many of these natural geoduck beds have been mined out by the wild fishery. We are replanting these natural beds back up to their natural densities with cultured geoduck seed raised from broodstock taken from the same general vicinity as the beds.

Sea cucumbers are often defined as the, “earthworms of the sea”. Like the earthworm on land, sea cucumbers feed on rotting material in the substrate and help to maintain the ecology. They like to feedon the pseudofaeces produced by both urchins and geoducks.

A healthy adult sea cucumber can move faster than it’s natural predator, the sunstar, just as a healthy caribou can out run a wolf. The problem is juvenile sea cucumbers cannot out run the star, and they get eaten by the millions. So we have creatednurseries for ourcultured sea cucumbers seedwhich are made up of recycled bags of oyster shells placed on the bottom of the ocean where the sandy substrate meets the edge of the reef. When the cucumber seed grows to a size where it has to leave the safety of our nursery refuge they hide out under the weed growing from our planting line on the reef. There they get to feed, not only on the rotting bits dropping down from their protective canopy of weed, they also get to feed on the pseudo faeces of the urchin. Once they are large enough to venture out onto the sandy substrate they also get to feed on the pseudo faeces of the geoducks.“Free ranging” sea cucumber allows them determine their own bestdensity.

This is the system we are championing into place accordingin B.C.

Eric Gant, of Manatee Holdings, is pioneering a new, sustainable model for aquaculture in British Columbia.

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Aquaculture Hatchery Completes $2 Million Expansion

The recent addition of several buildings and related hatchery infrastructure at Manatee Holdings’ Gartley Point Aquaculture Hatchery in Royston will help the facility move forward with its efforts to develop and implement an Adaptive Management Plan for the coastal waters of British Columbia. The Plan is in development in consultation with the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Provincial Governments, as well as marine researchers.

According to Manatee Holdings company president, Eric Gant, this season’s scallop and geoduck clam brood stock have now been brought in and the two species have been successfully spawned. Once the animals reach sufficient size, they will be planted in regulated undersea land tenures around Savory, Texada, Cortes, and Marina Islands. The company has employed this same ecologically sound aquaculture management practice for more than 15 years.  While there are future plans to add other indigenous ocean species to the hatchery program – including sea urchins, cockles, sea cucumbers and horse clams – this expansion of the program is still subject to approval. Once underway, it will form part of an extensive marine animal research program in cooperation with the UBC and Vancouver Island University.

“Over the past 25 years, Manatee Holdings has helped to successfully develop the geoduck aquaculture industry in BC,” explains Gant. “Our efforts have been instrumental in offsetting the detrimental impact that the local geoduck clam fishery is having on the natural stocks. The inherent problems with fisheries around the world are well known, and can be successfully offset with responsible aquaculture practices. What we are doing is vital to the future health of our coastal waters. Mindfully planting healthy geoduck clam seed into the substrate of the sub tidal areas along our shorelines ensures a genetically viable population, creates an organic heat sink that helps to offset the effects of Global Warming, and helps to offset pollution resulting from human activities.”

Gant says he was initially motivated to create his system of food production because of what he witnessed in his home town farming district, where grain farmers and cattle ranchers had to destroy the natural ecology of the forest in order to intensively culture domestic animals and plants. This is getting worse, he says, as free-range cattle ranching (for example) switches to intensive feedlot systems. Manatee’s Adaptive Management Program, on the other hand, fits into the surrounding natural ecology of the ocean.

“Manatee Holdings has been lobbying with Ottawa for over 18 months, to get the DFO policy makers to understand that what we are doing is a morally and mentally mature transition from hunting to ranching the sea,” concludes Gant. “It is a radically new method that improves upon the environment, rather than harming it. To the best of my knowledge, our approach is the most environmentally beneficial, organic, food production system on land or sea anywhere in the world. Our methods of production are proving that being environmental responsible and being profitable does not have to be at odds which each other. With the right system, you can be both.”

Eric Gant, president, Manatee Holdings, believes that aquaculture and a transition from a mindset of ‘hunting’ to ‘ranching’ is one way we can improve and protect the ocean’s ecology.

About Eric Gant and Manatee Holdings:                                               www.manateeholdings.com

Eric Winston Gant, Manatee Holdings, Royston, BC, is considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Geoduck Clam Aquaculture. He is one of the pioneers of the various dive fisheries harvesting geoduck, horse clams, red and green urchin, and sea cucumber. He has also served in various directorial positions on the boards of these dive fisher associations, working with the Federal Government to help develop the harvesting systems of management used in these fisheries.

In 1993, he pioneered the development of the Geoduck Clam Culture Industry in BC as the Founding President of FAN Seafoods Ltd. FAN spent approximately $15 Million developing commercially viable geoduck culture technology. In the year 2000, Mr. Gant built his own shellfish hatchery at Gartley Point, just south of Courtenay.

Eric Gant has been a guest lecturer at the Vancouver Island University and at the University of British Columbia. He has also made presentations at various conferences in the United States, Canada, Thailand, and China. He is presently developing joint ventures with several First Nations bands as part of their land claim settlements in Canada. Together they will be securing substantial sub tidal grow out sites in addition to what Manatee Holdings already owns. He is presently looking for international financing for $25 Million.

(p) 250-334-9562             (e) manateeholdings@gmail.com
4097 Gartley Point Road, Courtenay, BC V9N 9T2 Canada

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The Strategy of Change Part 1

Over the many years that we have been spearheading positive socio-economic change into our society, we’ve seen the patterns of resistance to change unfold in the same manner over and over again. Being able to see repetitive toxic patterns within your country, within the world, your immediate environment and within yourself is the first step towards reducing the stress related to change. Once a toxic pattern can be brought to the surface of the conscious mind and related to the commonality of man it makes it somehow seem less personal. It opens the mind in creative ways to deal with the resistance in a more effective manner. Recently for example, in our company’s operations, we ran into a massive resistance to the development of a new system of management in the sea cucumber aquaculture industry. But we made certain that we were very clear within ourselves that what we were doing was the right thing. Without rationalization, this gave us the strength to stand our ground, admits the social turmoil over the past few months. And now, the public is being swayed by others into recognizing that what we have to offer the community is something that will be tremendously valuable to the Comox Valley’s economy, and to the Baynes Sound ecology. To see the latest example to this response by others go to the link below for the In Focus article:

http://www.infocusmagazine.ca/2012/deep-sea-delicacy/sea-cucumber/

There you will see a well written 3rd party , fair and supportive article that was written by others standing up to those who are traditionally resistant to any kind of change, beneficial or otherwise. This approach of clarity from within can be applied reliably at all all levels of your existence. From a decision to quit a toxic behaviour in your personal life, to a resistance to persuasive tactics of others that lack integrity, to an understanding of what you should be supportive of for the well-being of the world at large.

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Manatee Holdings Ltd. Vice – President Ranked One of Canada’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs

Manatee Holdings Ltd. Vice – President, Lourdes Gant, is among Canada’s top 100 female entrepreneurs, according to an annual ranking released this week by two prominent Canadian magazines.

She placed 84th in the 14th annual W100 Ranking of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, produced by PROFIT and Chatelaine Magazines.

“I’m ecstatic – and surprised,” said Gant, who entered the contest on a whim after reading about it in a doctor’s waiting room last April. “I never really imagined I would win, but I thought it would be a fun thing to do. As I answered all the questions, it helped me become clear just who I am, what our business is about and how it helps people and the local economy. But winning is really the icing on the cake!”

Manatee Holdings Ltd. is a local company that sustainably harvests Geoduck clams and sea cucumbers from wild fisheries and is pioneering the aquaculture of these two species. A business consultant by trade, Gant joined Manatee Holdings Ltd. as Vice-President in 2008. Since then, she’s helped the company realized a 77 per cent growth in revenue.

“Basically, I oversee the marketing, the money, the management and the business model,” explained Gant. “l would like to say that I am in charge of the aspect of our business that can be defined as being a profitable ecological caretaker.”

Ranking Canada’s top female entrepreneurs on a composite score based on the size, growth rate and profitability of their businesses, the W100 profiles the country’s most successful female business owners. To be published in the November 2012 issues of PROFIT and Chatelaine magazines, the W100 is Canada’s largest annual celebration of entrepreneurial achievement by women.

“The women of the W100 offer 100 shining examples of Canadian entrepreneurship,” said Ian Portsmouth, publisher and editor-in-chief of PROFIT, a publication that focuses on the issues of small and mid-sized businesses. “They have achieved their elite status by creating valued products and services, applying deft management skills and exercising the determination required to succeed in today’s business environment.”

“One of my goals when I first came on board with Manatee Holdings was to expand the business in terms of recognition,” said Gant. Manatee Holdings Ltd. is spear heading the shift from fishing to aquaculture. “Compared with the other fishing industries, aquaculture has had a low profile and a lot of misunderstanding of what we actually do, so I have been working to raise its profile and, of course, increase its profitability. So to get recognized for this work on a national level is very fulfilling.”

In December, Gant will head to Toronto to receive the recognition in person at the W100 reception.

“I’m really looking forward to it, being there with all the other women and sharing our various stories. I know it will be a once-in-a-lifetime evening for me.”

The complete list of winners is available online at www.PROFITguide.com and www.chatelaine.com.

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Eric Gant – Green Ocean Sea cucumbers

Eric Gant talks about aquaculture and the Baynes Sound sea cucmber proposal. Green Ocean Sea cumbers proposes to seed Baynes Sound with Sea cumbers naturally and as they grow they will free range on the bottom in the sub-tidal zone.

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Male Geoduck spawning

Last update

We’re over 45 million eggs put up so far and willprobably stop at about 60 million tonight.  So a pretty successful firstspawn.  Eggs look really good and lots of females and males so genetics shouldbe good. This is our second all nighter at the station this week so glad we have eggs.





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Dragons’ Den Pitch – Geoduck

We’d like your comments about this show.

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Jim Treliving on Gordon Baker’s Pitch

Each week, the Financial Post revisits CBC’s previous week’s episode of Dragons’ Den. Mary Teresa Bitti captures what the cameras didn’t and in the process provides a case study for readers, zeroing in on what pitchers and dragons were thinking and what the challenges for the deal are going forward.

See more about this post at Financial Post Business Section by Mary Teresa Bitti.

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