VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Station is now part of B.C.’s food hub network. (Vancouver Island University photo)

VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Station is now part of B.C.’s food hub network. (Vancouver Island University photo)

VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Station now part of B.C. food hub network

Bowser hub will focus on seafood processing

Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station will play a vital role in helping the shellfish industry on the Island.

It is now a part of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture Food and Fisheries food hub network. It is one of three new hubs established on Vancouver Island that include Cowichan Valley and Victoria.

“B.C. food hubs create new opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses and strengthen food security so British Columbians can rely on locally grown and processed food now and for generations to come,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

The B.C. government is investing up to $2 million to purchase food-processing equipment and other startup costs for the three hub in partnership with the City of Victoria, the Victoria Community Food Hub Society, Cowichan Valley Regional District, Cowichan Green Community Society and Vancouver Island University.

READ MORE: Qualicum Beach, Errington farmers markets to bring back non-food vendors

“We are thrilled to harness the potential of Deep Bay’s world-class research labs and state-of-the-art experimental commercial kitchen facilities to link together the culinary, business, distribution and research expertise needed to put new ideas into action in the regional seafood industry,” says Carl Butterworth, manager of the Deep Bay Marine Field Station.

“We hope that the lasting benefit of the centre will be a track record of continuous innovation, technological and process development, answered research questions and a greatly expanded seafood sector that contributes to the food security of British Columbians and the general economy in B.C.”

The Bowser food hub is located close to the majority of shellfish operations on the Island and will focus on seafood processing. It was one of six regions the B.C., government that was granted funding in 2019 to develop a feasibility study or a business plan to determine the potential and capacity to offer a food processing centre in the region.

“The facility is perfectly positioned to become a world-recognized seafood product innovation centre, said Butterworth.

The Ministry of Agriculture indicated there are more than 100 species of wild and farmed fish, shellfish and marine plants harvested commercially in B.C. In 2016, seafood companies in the province produced a total of 506 different seafood commodities.

The marine fisheries, aquaculture and seafood sectors are vital contributors to the provincial economy. They are the foundation for many coastal communities in the province. Harvesting, aquaculture and processing contribute more than 7,700 jobs in BC and generate a wholesale value of approximately $1.7 billion annually.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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