Seafood Industry pumps millions into BC economy

seafood industry
British Columbia’s salmon aquaculture industry, often lambasted at home by critics armed with fishy data, has pumped over $1.5 billion towards the local economy this year resulting in the creation of about 1,600 jobs, a new independent study shows.

The study comes in the wake of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program recognizing the industry by changing its recommendation of B.C. farm-raised Atlantic salmon to “good alternative”.

B.C. is the only such region in the world to have this distinction for its entire Atlantic salmon production.

At the same, a new survey conducted at Hong Kong’s Seafood Expo, Asia’s premier trade show catering to the seafood industry, showed that salmon was the second-most in-demand species.

The volume of salmon raised in B.C. exported to Asia increased 40% over 2015’s record volume with more than 4.7-million kilograms of fresh salmon exported. China and Japan continue to be the top two Asian destinations for exports, with South Korea now emerging as a key growth market.

“Demand for B.C. farm-raised salmon has been at an all-time high for the past three years, and that demand is coming from both traditional markets such as the Canadian and USA markets, but also in many markets in Asia,” said BC Salmon Farmers Association Executive Director Jeremy Dunn.

But despite all the good news for the industry, a band of activists and an assortment of First nations groups, mostly those without revenue generated by aquaculture, are continuing to trot out junk science demanding for a ban on coastal fish farms in BC.

The First Nations opponents have also ingeniously tied this discourse into treaty claims, which seems to be their primary objective.

A fish farm escape in Washington State, the occupation of two Marine Harvest fish farms by a small group of natives and the American-funded Sea Shepherd’s 2016 campaign are recent media triggers used to paint a misleading picture of a healthy, sustainable product, say supporters of the industry.

“B.C salmon farmers are global leaders in achieving independent third-party certifications for

environmental sustainability and food safety. Every salmon farm is certified to an independent, audited program, while farmers raising Atlantic salmon currently have over 40% of their active production certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council’s salmon standard – a standard developed by the World Wildlife Fund,” said Dunn.

“This is a distraction from the important research underway to better understand the real issues affecting wild salmon,” he said.

Ian Roberts, director of public affairs for Marine Harvest, noted the irony of B.C. fish farms being targeted in response to an incident in Washington state, during a recent interview with Business in Vancouver.

“I’ve always found it fascinating that the philanthropy money that pours into British Columbia from the United States literally passes through Washington, where there’s an active salmon farming business – as there is in Maine,” he said.

“So Americans do farm Atlantic salmon, but we’ve just never seen American money used to fight American salmon farming. It seems to be Canadian-specific.”

Will Verboven, an agriculture policy developer and strategist, commenting on the Washington incident, said; ‘As expected, the usual cabal of anti-everything green lobbyists decried the incident as an example of why aquaculture needs to be banned. All the old debunked junk science was trotted out to again deceive gullible citizens and the media. Contrary to the wild delusions of green zealots, Atlantic salmon do not crossbreed with local west coast varieties and no evidence has been found that they go up streams to reproduce.”

Examples of the myths and half-truths trotted out by the anti-fish farming lobby permeate the web.

American-funded activists constantly insist that BC salmon farms pose a direct threat to wild salmon stocks by spreading sea lice and other diseases to wild stocks.

But they keep silent about the large returns of pink salmon in recent years that contradict their claim. They also discriminate against the data by many fisheries scientists who point to climate change and warming waters for declines in certain wild salmon stocks, not fish farms.

In a recent Huffington Post column, Marc Davis, a Vancouver business writer and wellness blogger advocated for the ban on open-net fish farms and suggested that salmon farms be moved onshore, where he deems they will not pose a threat to wild salmon.

Davis, however, does not include the fact that land-based farms will leave a damaging ecological foot print due to high power consumption and land use or that growing just 75,000 tons of salmon would require 4.16 billion liters of water just to fill the tanks.

A global report on The Evolution of Land-based Atlantic Salmon Farms shows that farming Atlantic salmon in their natural environment — the ocean — is the responsible way to farm.

To move Canada’s current production to a land-based system would require 136 square kilometers of land, which could fit 28,000 Canadian football fields, it concluded.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

 

An independent economic analysis by MNP LLP of the salmon aquaculture industry in British Columbia shows an increase of 37% over the past three years in its value to the province, resulting in the creation of over 1,600 jobs.

• The total output generated by the BC farm-raised salmon industry increased 37 percent from $1,144.0 million to $1,561.9 million.

• The total GDP generated by the BC farm-raised salmon industry increased 36 percent from $411.5 million to $557.8 million.

• The total employment generated by the BC farm-raised salmon industry increased 33 percent from 4,977 to 6,610 full-time equivalents.

• The government taxes generated by the BC farm-raised salmon industry increased 39 percent from $62.0 to $86.1 million.

• The total production of farm-raised salmon in B.C. has increased 8% since 2002.

Salmon farmers have worked closely with First Nations partners through this period with • 20 Nations and many First Nations owned businesses benefiting from working together.

• Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, the province’s top agricultural export, and generates over $1.5-billion towards the B.C. economy, resulting in over 6,600 jobs.

• The BC Salmon Farmers Association represents 52 businesses and organizations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in B.C. They are involved in ensuring that over.

$700-million (2016 value) of salmon raised in B.C. gets to domestic and global markets.

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BC Seafood Expo and Festival