Diving is a unique and specialized form of seafood harvesting in BC that requires a skilled hand. Commercial divers individually harvest shellfish from the ocean floor, using their expertise to identify shellfish delicacies. Divers must be well-trained to safely navigate the depths of the ocean. Commercial dive boats are smaller than the average fishing boat, with an average of three crew members. The divers are carefully monitored by their deck crew.

There are three fisheries in BC that harvest using commercial divers, including the Sea Cucumber, Sea Urchin, and Geoduck fisheries. Diving involves the use of specialized equipment, techniques, and safety protocols to collect shellfish from the ocean floor. Commercial divers are highly trained professionals who work in a variety of environments to harvest for Geoduck clams, Sea Cucumbers and Geoducks. Diving is an extremely sustainable harvest method because there is zero bycatch. In addition, divers can also be more selective when harvesting, for example, Geoduck divers avoid harvesting juvenile clams.

Although the Geoduck, Sea Cucumber, and Sea Urchin fisheries take place during different times of the year and across varied locations across BC, many commercial divers harvest for all three shellfish delicacies. Sea Cucumbers and Sea Urchins are handpicked because they are found along the ocean floor. Whereas, Geoducks clams are embedded in the sea floor, so they require the use of a stinger, which is a nozzle with high-pressure water, to liquify the sand around the clam. Once underwater, the divers will connect a mesh bag to their waist and begin filling the bag with the target species. Once the bag is full the diver will signal to the crew to haul the bag to the deck of the boat.

Learn more about the Geoduck fishery. 

The safety of divers is of utmost importance, and it is essential BC’s dive fisheries always maintain the highest standards of safety. Dive boats must be properly equipped and managed with the highest levels of safety protocols. Divers need to be very experienced with the proper training and resources to ensure they can safely operate within their environment. Both underwater and above water conditions must be heavily monitored. For example, dive boats must have dive flags flying to signal to other boats that there are divers in the water and crew members must strictly watch for surface bubbles in the water to know the location of their divers.

Learn more about the Sea Urchin fishery. 

For the Sea Urchin fishery, commercial divers harvest across various locations in BC. The highest demand for Sea Urchins is from December to March. The fishery slows down considerably during the summer months when the quality of the Sea Urchin Roe decreases. Divers harvest for Cucumbers for a few short weeks during the fall across various regions of BC. Geoducks are harvested year-round, and boats will harvest their quota based on market demand. Therefore, experienced commercial divers can participate in all three fisheries. BC’s dive fisheries play an important role in the economic well-being of the province, harvesting three of the most specialized and sustainable shellfish products in the world.

Learn more about the Sea Cucumber fishery.