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A Nanoose Bay company has received financial support from the federal government to develop an innovative method of culturing geoducks.

Maplestar Seafood has received $31,000 through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program, which supports innovation and sustainability in the aquaculture industry across Canada.

The project – developing an off-bottom, suspended net for culturing geoducks – will address lack of bottom tenure and result in a shorter maturation period. Total cost is about $60,000.

Nationally, aquaculture production has increased four-fold in the past 20 years. About 70 per cent of Canadian aquaculture products are sold to foreign markets and globally, half of all fish and seafood consumed is now farmed, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"The B.C. aquaculture industry currently provides an estimated 6,000 jobs and over $224 million in wages for British Columbians," said Keith Ashfield, minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in a press release.

"The industry is developing new technologies that will make our country a world leader in aquaculture and create jobs and opportunities here at home. We are proud that our government can play a role in supporting this innovation."

The DFO website states that increasing demand in Asian markets for the geoduck clam, native to the Pacific Ocean, is making the animal an attractive species for aquaculture development.

For more information about the projects funded through the Aquaculture Innovation and Market Access Program, please go to http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/aquaculture/sustainable-durable/innovation-eng.htm.