Storm devastates Island oyster farms

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
21 December 2006, at 12:00am

CANADA - Fanny Bay oyster farmers Greg and Hollie Wood and their young family face an uncertain future after strong southwesterly winds blasted through their equipment and destroyed years of work.

The Shellfish Association is pleased with $25,000 from the province to help pay to retrieve equipment from beaches and waters. Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said, "The shellfish industry has been very quick in its cleanup efforts, but the storms did an enormous amount of damage and spread the equipment over a very wide area."

Some farmers have lost everything. "The incident highlights the importance of discussions between industry and government on an insurance program," said Roberta Stevenson, executive director of the Shellfish Growers Association. She is thinking of some kind of crop insurance being available through the federal government.

The total damage is still being tallied but is expected to be in the millions, she said. Many operations are small family-run businesses.

About 1,000 people are employed in the cultivated shellfish industry. Oyster farmers will be laying off workers, Stevenson said. "They can't afford the payroll if they don't have the product to sell."

Source: Times Colonist