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

Central Okanagan firefighters are battling wildfires across B.C.

Lake Country, Kelowna and Peachland crews are assisting the BC Wildfire Service

Long-awaited John Hindle Drive in Kelowna just weeks away from completion

Ministry of Transportation says it plans to have the road open before the start of the school year

Updated: RCMP no longer suspect death of Vernon woman is suspicious

West Kelowna RCMP continue to investigate the woman’s sudden death

Man who stole hundreds of golf balls in Kelowna identified

The individual has since come forward to the RCMP

Urgent need for Kelowna, Vernon blood donors

Okanagan blood shortfall part of nation-wide challenge

A first-hand look at hazards facing scooter users

A Salmon Arm reporter tags along on a mobility scooter tour of the city to learn about safety hazards

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Man found not guilty in 2011 drug-related shooting in Shuswap

Judge rules Jeremy Davis couldn’t foresee his companion would kill 24-year-old Nick Larsen.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Parks Canada has ‘general concept’ in mind for South Okanagan-Similkameen

Minister Catherine McKenna will be providing a further update to representatives in Penticton Friday, August 17

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Most Read