Over the past decade, the shellfish and finfish aquaculture industry has expanded rapidly in coastal British Columbia (BC) Canada. Foreshore and nearshore shellfish and finfish aquaculture leaseholds are sited in close proximity or in direct competition with habitat for wild shellfish. As a result, some wild shellfish harvesters believe shellfish farms are significantly reducing access to beaches and estuarine areas for wild harvesting, or that salmon farms are contaminating wild shellfish stocks. In this article, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are used to analyze spatial and temporal trends in the growth of shellfish and finfish aquaculture tenures in BC, while interviews with stakeholders in coastal communities are used to explore user conflicts and the implications of changing access rights on the distribution of marine resources. Qualitative and quantitative findings suggest that shellfish aquaculture provides significant economic opportunities for coastal communities, but that such development may hold increased risk of spatial conflicts over marine habitat as the aquaculture industry continues to grow.
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