Who grew those oysters on your plate?

The story of shellfish from tide-to-table

photo: Fanny Bay Oysters

The average seafood eater on BC’s South Coast is probably blissfully unaware that it takes between two and four years to grow the Pacific Northwest clams and oysters that occasionally adorn their plate. That’s something a local Vancouver restaurant is trying to change by encouraging people to learn more about the origins of local shellfish.

At Fanny Bay Oysters, the only tide-to-table restaurant that offers oysters, mussels, clams and geoducks in Vancouver, the focus is on providing diners with the specifics of where their shellfish was grown and the harvesting methods used. Information about menu items includes whether it was beach grown, tray cultured or harvested by tide tumbling, floating racks or bags, or was part of a dive.

Malindi Taylor is a fifth generation shellfish farmer with Fanny Bay Oysters and Taylor Shellfish. “What’s important to me and my family is who grew the shellfish, and why it is being grown to ensure what we harvest is done in an environmentally sound way and that we have no negative impacts on the waterways that the product is in,” she says.

“Helping the environment helps your company” – Malindi Taylor

photo: Fanny Bay Oysters

Fanny Bay Oysters, the Canadian division of the U.S. company Taylor Shellfish, serves product grown from its farms in Washington State and northern Desolation Sound. “At our farm in Fanny Bay, BC, we grow, harvest, process and package our shellfish and we’re always looking for areas where we can improve sustainability—and there are lots of growing methods that ensure sustainability,” Taylor says.

It goes without saying that shellfish need healthy water to grow and achieve restaurant grade for food safety. “We’re always working to ensure there is clean water for British Columbia and all of the Pacific Northwest. We wouldn’t be able to work if the marine environment wasn’t healthy,” says Taylor.

The Taylor family’s push to not pollute water clean began in the 50s and 60s with Taylor’s grandfather, who sounded the alarm when pollution from the lumber milling industry started to have a negative impact water quality. Today, Taylor says she works really hard to ensure the communities where the family business has operations know the value of good water quality and are able to see that in the reflection of the product that gets farmed in areas of California, Hawaii, Washington and BC.

“Getting people involved and active is what Georgia Strait Alliance does” – Malindi Taylor

Making people aware of issues is something Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) does well, according to Taylor. It does the groundwork to make issues that impact the marine environment relatable to residents of coastal communities in BC. “GSA is able to reach out to people and explain the issues and how they’re going to affect the communities that we live in; they’re able to rally support for so many great causes.”

The next time you plan to eat Kumamoto, Olympia or Pacific oysters, Manilla clams, or a geoduck sashimi salad, perhaps you’ll consider the origins of the shellfish you’re about to purchase. Because, as Taylor aptly says; “Without caring about the environment, you won’t have the seafood that you love to eat.”

“If you’re involved in the seafood industry, you want to be working with Georgia Strait Alliance” – Malindi Taylor

Fanny Bay Oyster Bar in Vancouver hosted From Oysters to Orcas in February, with all proceeds going to support Georgia Strait Alliance’s marine conservation work.

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