Campbell River Chamber of Commerce resolution for a Federal Aquaculture Act gets overwhelming support. Thousands of B.C. businesses in British Columbia have lent their support for a Federal Aquaculture Act to clarify industry responsibilities and provide fair access to long term fish farm tenures.
The push for a Federal Aquaculture, which has been embraced by BC salmon farmers, was mooted by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce.
It was tabled as a resolution at the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting, last Spring. The BC Chamber of Commerce represents more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, and 36,000 businesses.
The resolution passed with a clear two-thirds majority said Jessica Gares, Director of Communications, for the BC Chamber of Commerce, adding the recommendations will now be relayed to the minister responsible via a latter.
“After the resolution was tabled and debated, 88 percent of the delegates representing thousands of businesses voted to support it,” said Corby Lamb, Board Chair for the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce (pictured).
He said the resolution was crafted after consultation with the public, the BC Salmon Farmers Association and a panel discussion to address myths and past perceptions about the industry.
The panelists included Dallas Smith of the Nanwakolas Council, Dr. Jim Powell, CEO of the BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, Jeremy Dunn, the former, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) and Randall Heidt, VP Strategic Initiatives, North Island College.
“We felt the industry needed a champion,” said Lamb.
“Aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the agriculture industry and a Federal Aquaculture Act will provide a simplified regulatory path to grow our businesses, especially in coastal communities,” said John Paul Fraser, the Executive Director of the BCSFA.
“BC business owners, who support hundreds of thousands of livelihoods know the value of sustainable aquaculture to the local economy,” he said.
“They also know the value of such legislation which will codify a pathway to establish aquaculture as a legitimate caretaker of Canada’s aquatic resources.”
The Campbell River Chamber of Commerce will now take the resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM and convention this month, which brings together over 320 chamber of commerce executives and community business leaders to discuss the economic and political issues that affect the prosperity of Canadian business.
Here are some highlights of the resolution by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce entitled Realizing the potential of Aquaculture in Canada;
- The combination of the worlds’ longest coastline, high biophysical farmed seafood potential, a skilled workforce, and dedication to science and innovation, positions Canada for future success.
- Currently, Canada stands 26th in the world in terms of total global farmed seafood production and fourth in the world for salmon production. Salmon farming has grown to take its place as one of the country’s largest agricultural export, generating $1,561.9 million in economic output. ( MNP’s 2017 Economic Impact Study)
- Farmed seafood revenues rose to $1.347 billion in 2016, driven by growth in output as well as strong prices, particularly for farm-raised salmon. Production also showed positive gains in 2016, increasing to an all-time high of 200,565 tonnes.
- Global appetite for Canadian farmed seafood is also growing. In 2016, Canada’s farmed seafood exports soared to over $1 billion. Canada’s farmed seafood sector is strongly dependent on exports: around 70% of Canada’s farmed seafood production is exported, almost all of it to the U.S.
- Farming and fish processing activities generate an estimated $5.16 billion in economic activity, $2 billion in GDP, and 25,000 full-time jobs for Canadians earning an estimated $1.16 billion in wages in 2016. When the full value-chain of economic activity from the seafood farm to your plate is considered, Canadian farmed seafood generated a total of over $7.3 billion in economic activity throughout the economy, $3.75 billion in GDP, and $2.18 billion dollars in wages for almost 54,000 Canadian workers in 2016 (Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance)
- More than 40 Indigenous communities are directly or indirectly involved in farming seafood across Canada; this involvement occurs in nine of the ten Canadian provinces. In addition to those Indigenous communities already participating in farming seafood, there are many others whose traditional territories have the biophysical capacity to support farmed seafood development.
The Campbell River Chamber of Commerce is recommending that the Federal government:
- Through regional engagement, develop a Federal Aquaculture Act, to establish national environmental standards and clarify industry responsibilities;
- Ensure that Federal consultation with First Nations clarifies and is beneficial to resolving concerns and provides a framework that meets the needs of the industry for timely decisions;
- Support efforts to build public confidence in aquaculture management and place a focus on science and solution; and
- Create a truly modern federal management regime that is science based, agible, adaptable and focused on performance outcomes that ensure highest standards of sustainability and protection.
A similar piece of legislation is also being proposed for the United States, by Senator Roger Wicker, who has introduced a bill that would streamline the permitting process for aquaculture farms in American waters.
The American bill – “Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act” aims to establish an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be charged with coordinating the federal permitting process.
Additionally, a permit would be established through NOAA that would give an individual the security of tenure necessary to secure financing for an aquaculture operation.
The legislation would also maintain environmental standards and fund research and extension services to support the growth of aquaculture in the United States.
The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
“This bill would give farmers a clear, simplified regulatory path to start new businesses in our coastal communities. The AQUAA Act would also fund needed research to continue the growth and success of this important industry,” Wicker said.