Bringing a Local Harvest to an International Market
In BC’s remote Central Coast, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation is supporting the local economy with its community-owned seafood company, Kitasoo Seafoods. The business has been a pillar of employment and industry in the community since 1985, with more than one person from every household working at the organization.
In 2012, the Nation identified an opportunity to increase the capacity of the business and diversify their market exposure by developing high-value seafood products, including locally harvested seafoods such as sea cucumber, spawn-on-kelp, prawns, and wild salmon. “We want to build other opportunities beyond a single species. Otherwise the business and those we employ become very vulnerable,” explains Larry Greba, Director of Kitasoo Development Cooperation.
The Nation also invested in the expansion of infrastructure to allow Kitasoo Seafoods to be able to process their own products and increase both profit margins and product quality. By specializing in products with higher profit margins, the plant is able to hone in on specific markets and create high quality, highly valued products.
The ultimate goal of Kitasoo Seafoods is to operate through market shifts and provide stable employment opportunities for the community of Klemtu. The recent expansion increases the resiliency of the business and, by extension, local livelihoods.
Sustainability and the impact of the operations on the environment and future generations underpin all decisions made at Kitasoo Seafoods. By focusing on a variety of species, the expanded plant supports the diversity of the local marine environment, prevents overharvesting, and helps to maintain traditional foods used for food, social, and ceremonial purposes for future generations.