HEDC Fish Plant Feasibility Study

The Heiltsuk community has long been a fishing community, relying on local seafood to support the nutritional and traditional demands of residents as well as the economic opportunities of the seafood trade. In 1989, the Nation constructed a fish processing plant to support the community’s fishing activities and economy. Since its opening, the Bella Bella Fish Plant has employed over 50 individuals at various times throughout the year with a range of products being processed from salmon to halibut to fish roe. Unfortunately with the collapse of the commercial fishing industry in the late 1990’s, this once prized community asset became underutilized and has fallen into disrepair. Sauder S3i was tasked with analyzing alternative opportunities for the fish plant, which could revive profitable uses for the facility. A Sauder S3i Graduate Fellow analyzed supply/demand and transportation factors and assessed various species of seafood and plant life that could be suitable for processing at the plant especially in light of a new seafood industry now heavily influenced by aquaculture production.

The analyses of seafood trends, growth rates and costs revealed new markets and strategies for HEDC to consider. Consultations with community members were a critical aspect of identifying the new uses for this structure and they clarified the need for an integrated strategy in returning the plant to profitable operations. Inspired by this investigation, HEDC has moved forward in developing a business plan to attract capital and other resources to bring the plant into full operation.