Nanoose Bay Recreational Shellfish Reserve

The Nanoose Bay Recreational Shellfish Reserve is located on the south side of Nanoose Bay parallel to Highway 19. It is located approximately 27 kilometers north of downtown Nanaimo.

This shellfish reserve covers approximately 23 hectares and is very productive supporting an abundance of shellfish species. The more significant and important species include Manila and littleneck clams, cockles and oysters. Butter and varnish clams can also be found as well as other minor species.

You must have a valid Tidal Water Sport Fishing Licence.

You must check for shellfish closures by calling 1-866-431-3474 or check online closure notices.

To access this recreational reserve you must turn right from Highway 19, near the head of Nanoose Bay onto Arlington Road. Follow Arlington onto Nanoose Beach Road to the head of Nanoose Bay. Public parking is found at the end of Nanoose Beach Road.

Special Concerns:

  • To access this Shellfish Reserve you must cross over private property that is an active shellfish farm. This private section is just west and adjacent to the reserve.
  • The property owners have permitted public access across their beach. They ask the public to keep to the upper intertidal area so as not to disturb culturing activities. Please respect their rights. Heed any signage or directions from workers that you may encounter.
  • While much of Nanoose Bay is under commercial tenure for shellfish aquaculture, there remain significant recreational opportunities outside the tenured areas on vacant Crown land.
  • Harvesters that choose not to walk the distance to the recreational reserve may wish to harvest clams closer to the parking area. The beach here contains a similar concentration of shellfish with the exception of oysters that can only be found in abundance at the shellfish reserve.
  • You must always observe the location of commercial tenures as the shellfish on these tenures is private property. You can distinguish the corners of these commercial reserves as they are marked by red concrete markers.


Nobody but the Captain of the charter boat, should make arrangements for booking a charter. Let’s examine the reasons why?

  1. First the boat has limitations to how much weight it will safely carry, how many passengers it can have onboard.
  2. The Captain knows all the fishing regulations for the areas you’ll be fishing.
  3. Marine Captains in Canada must be legally licensed with Transport Canada. Their charter boat’s must have a current survey. They must be commercially insured. Ask the Captain to show you their license’s and insurance. Don’t choose them as your charter guide if they can’t produce the license copies.
  4. Your Captain has special knowledge of the areas you’ll be fishing. To target certain species of fish. They have an understanding of how to revive certain fish not being kept.
  5. Your Captain will know his boat and equipment. If you have kids onboard he /she must have a proper life jacket. It is rated for their use and that fit proper. Same for the adults onboard.
  6. Should an emergency arise the Captain knows exactly how to deal with it and proceed to overcome whatever it is.
  7. Captain’s know their vessels. They know the engines and operational procedures of the special equipment. Most Captain’s keep their boats updated with the best in safety equipment. However things beyond control do happen from time to time. It’s the Captain that shoulders the responsibility for the crew and guests. 
  8. Also, does the middleman have a business license?, or credentials, or pay taxes in Canada? Or support any of our local economy? Like fuel companies? Or fishing gear suppliers? Boat repair companies? accountants? Marina’s?
  9. A middleman (fish booker) is an outsider. They take a cut of the income from the charter company. They take a fee from the charter Captain. They book charters and control the sale. The middleman (fish booker) don’t share in the risks or costs of doing the charter business.
  10. Are they Canadian owned ?They don’t say. I don’t want more of my hard earned money going into another country’s pockets. Especially for doing business on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo BC. It’s the Captain of the boat that does all the work serving the guests. Getting to know the guests and making sure they get fish.
  11. Various companies online are advertising charters, sitting at their computer, maybe with their feet up. At any rate, I hope most skippers in BC choose not to support the outsiders (fish booker). Keep the earnings in your own pockets. Keep your profits working in the BC economy, and the smaller business people.