Ed Mansfield of accounting firm MNP presents data on the growth of the B.C. aquaculture industry, Victoria, Oct. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. salmon farm value growing rapidly

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc to release industry inspection data

B.C. aquaculture products are already the province’s largest agricultural export by value, and their importance can only grow in the future, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc told an industry conference this week.

Speaking to the 2017 Business of Aquaculture Seafood Summit in Victoria, LeBlanc pledged to continue the federal government’s support for research to make the salmon farming industry more productive and ecologically safe.

Fish and seafood exports from Canada reached a record $6.6 billion in 2016, with exports to 136 countries, but the industry’s global reputation can be threatened by careless incidents such as the recent escape of thousands of Atlantic salmon from a fish farm in Washington state, LeBlanc said. He warned that “sloppy practices” of this kind erode public confidence.

While U.S. salmon farming goes mostly unnoticed, the B.C. industry is under frequent attack from activists who warn of diseases and parasites affecting wild salmon. LeBlanc called on B.C. industry executives to work with Ottawa to create a public database of audits and health inspections, similar to to BarentsWatch in Norway, where ocean-based salmon farming was pioneered 50 years ago.

“The B.C. aquaculture regulatory program has tougher environmental standards than anywhere else in the country, and yet the public perception in many cases does not reflect this very basic reality,” LeBlanc said. “To create better conditions for social licence necessary to grow your business, I think we must collectively improve the transparency and understanding of these safe, healthy practices followed by aquaculture operators.”

An industry analysis presented by accounting firm MNP calculated that from 2013 to 2016, the B.C. salmon industry grew by 37 per cent in output value, by 33 per cent in employment and by almost 40 per cent in revenue to government. LeBlanc said that trend is likely to continue as wild fish stocks diminish and changing ocean conditions put more value on the country’s vast coastal region and cold waters.

Norway’s Ambassador to Canada, Anne Kari Han sen Ovind, also spoke to the conference. She said Norway’s exports of farmed salmon and trout are also growing and the country is working on new technology to increase its environmental safety and efficiency.

Ovind said Norway is launching a new regulatory regime based on the work of former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who led a landmark 1987 study of sustainable development and served as director-general of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003.

Ovind noted that the world’s population is expected to peak at 9.7 billion people by 2050, and greatly expanded aquaculture will be needed to feed everyone. Earth’s surface is 75 per cent water, but is now producing only five per cent of human food, she said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Poor ventilation likely cause of carbon monoxide incident at Delta farm

All 42 patients have been released from hospital, according to Delta Fire

Medieval holiday concert, Winter Harp, returns to Chilliwack Cultural Centre Stage

Magical backdrops of cathedrals and wisps of snow set the stage for Winter Harp, a wondrous concert experience set to capture the joy and spirit of the holiday season.

It’s more than Hope that makes the community great

Warm-hearted and fascinating people made reporter’s brief stay in Hope one he’ll never forget

Muddy water has Hope resident seeking a remedy

No one sure of cause, but solution needed

Christmas at Hope’s food bank a busy time for volunteers

Volunteers and love make the difference

VIDEO: Christmas at Kilby feast kicks off holiday eating

Sold-out event driven by volunteer staff

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

VIDEO: Man frustrated that Vancouver taxi driver won’t take him home to New Westminster

Kuldip Gill says that not being able to get a ride to the suburbs is a constant problem

Legacy of Amanda Todd lives on through B.C. foundation

Todd’s mother Carol stresses the importance of putting the phone down and talking with children

UPDATE: Train hits hydro pole, causes outage near Deltaport

No injuries reported but traffic in and out of Deltaport is blocked

VIDEO: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire star striker Kei Kamara

Kamara has 103 goals and 39 assists in 298 appearances over 11 Major League Soccer seasons

Smartphone pedometers underestimate steps, but valuable health tool: study

UBC researchers found the iPhone underestimated steps by 21.5 per cent

VIDEO: ‘Last Jedi’ premiere kicks off with droids, Daisy Ridley

Latests Star Wars film premiered in style ahead of Dec. 15 theatre debut

Most Read