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.
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