Deep Bay Field Station operates as a niche supplier of oyster feed for the province, producing 14% of domestic supply at $7 million of market value.
Despite the interest and potential in BC’s shellfish aquaculture industry, restraints on expansion on Vancouver Island existed. Innovation was lacking and technology was outdated. A workforce needed more training, and social perception of the industry was holding it back. The need for a shellfish field station to address this growing industry’s needs, was identified in as far back as 1976 by the Marine Resources Branch of the Ministry of Environment. Vancouver Island University proposed a facility located in Deep Bay, which is in the heart of Baynes Sound, an area that produces more than half of BC’s farmed shellfish.
The Deep Bay Field Station is built on a donated three-hectare waterfront property which also includes two active shellfish farms. The distinctive clamshell shaped building was designed to help the industry transition from a “resource extraction” economy to a “knowledge-based” green resource economy. The 10,000 square foot LEED® Platinum certified facility features seawater research and development labs and facilities; multi-purpose workshop and seminar rooms; an interpretive foyer, aquariums, and sea creature touch tanks; as well as a culinary demonstration facility. The multipurpose building is designed to support technology transfer to the industry but also to function as an event hosting, tourism and educational facility meeting wider community needs.
Opened in 2011, the Deep Bay Field Station is helping the industry meet growing global demand for sustainably-produced seafood. The facility has attracted prominent researchers and research projects, opportunities for graduate students to perfect and test industry innovation and technology transfer. The facility also has a positive impact on regional tourism attracting individual travelers, research groups and school groups from BC, Alberta and beyond. The Field Station has also served to host high profile international events as well as other regional and community-related events. In April 2011, the Deep Bay project won the National Green Building Award for its use of green technologies.