Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community
Abalone Project (BHCAP)
Northern abalone were once a key member of coastal ecosystems and an important economic and cultural
resource in western Canada. However, over-exploitation led to dramatic population declines and the closure of
the fishery in 1990. Since that time, northern abalone populations have failed to recover.
The main goal of the BCHAP is to replenish wild abalone populations, and to remove it from its threatened status.
Brief project description - click here
Project details, facilities and methodology:
broodstock | DNA analysis | hatchery
| settlement | outplanting
Abalone Conservation Programs
BHCAP's Abalone Coast Watch
Nisga'a Coast Watch Program
What are abalone?
Northern, or Pinto (Haliotis Kamtschatkana) abalone are
sub-tidal marine snails that were once very abundant throughout the west coast,
from Alaska to California. Their shell is ear-like in shape and they like
to graze algae by scraping it off rocks with their spiny-toothed tongue, or
radula. These gastropods take about four years to reach reproductive age and
reproduce by broadcasting their gametes (eggs and sperm) out into the water
column, making it vital that they be near each other during breeding season. For more about Abalone Biology,
Why are abalone threatened?
Abalone have long been a traditional food
and decorative source of the First Nations people of the west coast. The meat
was highly prized, and the lustrous shells were used in jewelry and adornment.
The abalone's population remained stable until the advent of SCUBA in the
1970's, which allowed abalone to be harvested commercially at very high rates.
They soon became over-harvested and their populations were no longer able
to sustain themselves. The decline in abalone stocks prompted the government
to place a ban on the harvesting of Pinto abalone in 1990, making it illegal
to do so. Since then, poaching has become a problem. The black market demand
for abalone has kept the population from coming back, with illegal harvests
matching the legal quotas of 1989.
What is the project about?
The main goal of the BCHAP (Bamfield Community
Huu ay aht Abalone Project) is to replenish wild abalone populations and to
remove it from its threatened status. The project includes a hatchery and
grow-out facility to breed and raise abalone for reintroduction into the wild.
Studies are underway to calculate the quantity and quality of abalone in study
sites in and around Bamfield, and discover where assistance is most needed
for their rehabilitation. The project also focuses on public education and
awareness campaigns to increase support for the re-establishment of this threatened
Who is involved?
Bamfield Huu-Ay-Aht Community Abalone Project is one of four organizations
involved in the abalone pilot projects on the coast of BC. Haida Gwaii, Kitasoo,
and Malcolm Island Shellfish
Co-op are also working to restock the marine world with abalone; Haida
Gwaii and Kitasoo are attempting to help out abalone wild stocks with manipulation
of those wild stocks (moving them around to clump their populations to increase
chances of fertilization), while BHCAP and Malcolm Island are using a hatchery
approach for rearing abalone from brood stock. Also, the BHCAP has developed Coast Watch, a program
to get locals involved in abalone protection at study sites near Bamfield
and throughout barkley sound.
More information and teacher's resources:
For more info, e-mail us at: BCHAP mail
The Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project is funded, in part, by
The Habitat Stewardship Program
for Species at Risk is a partnership-based, conservation initiative sponsored
by the Government of Canada. The program is managed cooperatively by Environment
Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Parks Canada, and is administered
by Environment Canada.
Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community
100 Pachena Road
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