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NEWS RELEASE · 22nd June 2011
Ministry of Advanced Education
Training program supports First Nations aquaculture workers

Thirty-six First Nations aquaculture workers will now have the opportunity to receive training in shellfish technician, supervisory and management roles, providing them with the skills needed to access good jobs in their local communities to support their families.

To conduct the training and cover related costs, including student travel, the Province is providing $300,000 in one-time funding to Vancouver Island University ($167,750), Nicola Valley Institute of Technology ($110,000) and Northwest Community College ($23,250). The training plans include health and safety, scallop biology, scallop culture techniques, farm infrastructure and maintenance.

All workers taking part in the training programs have been hired through the Coastal First Nations Shellfish Training and Employment Strategy, a Coastal First Nations initiative designed to further support participation in the growing shellfish farming industry. First Nations workers who receive training are employed at shellfish aquaculture operations near the Heiltsuk First Nation, Metlakatla First Nation and Haida Nation communities along the northern B.C. coast.

Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education is quoted as stating; "This funding and the training provided will help First Nations communities build capacity and increase year-round employment in shellfish aquaculture, creating jobs in rural British Columbia."

Art Sterritt, Executive Director, Coastal First Nations is quoted as stating; "Coastal First Nations recognize that our economic development ambitions need to extend beyond current fisheries activities. If we are to create a successful shellfish industry we need community members who can effectively operate and manage the business. The funding for the training program will provide the participants with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the economic development of their communities.

Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation is quoted as stating; "First Nations will play an important role in B.C.'s aquaculture industry, and this funding will help support that role in the years ahead. The training that will be offered is an investment in a sector that provides an estimated 6,000 jobs and more than $224 million in wages for British Columbians."

Ron Cantelon, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum is quoted as stating; "First Nations shellfish aquaculture has enormous potential. This is an industry that will provide sustainable jobs and new opportunities for many remote communities along the B.C. coast for many years to come."

Quick Facts:

* The annual value of shellfish aquaculture harvested in B.C. is close to $30 million.

* Approximately 323 companies are involved in shellfish aquaculture in B.C.

* There are 512 shellfish aquaculture sites on B.C.'s coast.

* Shellfish aquaculture production comes entirely out of rural coastal areas, where farms offer economic opportunities and create jobs for local families in the community.

* Currently, most shellfish aquaculture occurs on the southern coast of British Columbia. However, positive results from preliminary pilot work has recently resulted in the start of commercial operations in northern coastal areas as well.

* Primary species cultured are Pacific oysters and Manila clams with geoduck clam, gallo mussel and scallop culture occurring on a smaller scale.