Westcoast Fish Culture - Where Steelhead and Stillwater Meet

A few miles south of Powell River is the historic small town of Stillwater. Its idyllic shoreline bluffs slowly rise along the Eagle River to Lois Lake home of Westcoast Fish Culture. Westcoast Fish Culture is a small, but growing, locally owned and operated, integrated fish farming operation. They grow steelhead from eggs to harvest as full sized fish. They then process them at their processing facility in nearby Lang Bay for shipment to major chains and restaurants large and small all across North America.

Luckily i live next door to Nanette and Alex Wadden and their lovely extended family. Nanette is in charge of the processing plant at Lang Bay and her husband Alex helps run the hatcheries back at Lois Lake. Through getting to know them i've slowly learned some of the interesting details about the Westcoast Fish Culture operation. Like many a left coast hippy-type i've learned to dislike the fish farming industry for lottsa reasons.

This operation is different in many important ways. For one the steelhead live their whole life cycle in Lois Lake, a logging industry built man made lake, so have no contact with ocean species like wild salmon or with native steelhead. Another is that Westcoast feeds their fish only sustainable organic feed, they get no antibiotics and are never given growth hormones. Another is that Alex has invented a process that uses the by-products of cleaning and processing to produce bio-diesel which they use to run the generators needed to produce all the electricity for their off-grid farming operation.

Powell River Living magazine did a wonderful article on them a while back featuring one of Canada's most celebrated chefs Rob Feenie, Canada's only Iron Chef, and concept architect for the Cactus Club restaurants. Feenie, who was also a fish farm skeptic, is now sold on Westcoast's product and it is the only cultured fish he recommends and uses. This small family owned business employs many happy local folks in both its lake and processing facilities, please read the Powell River Living article for more information about what is one excellent solution to our growing demand for organically fed protein that can be, at least in part, supplied from an increasingly degraded environment.

Powell River Living - Stillwater steelhead make national headlines