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

Clover Point amenities plan for sewage line project projects 50 parking spots lost

New bike path proposed to be built on top of Dallas Road sewer line

VIDEO: Sooke couple’s elaborate Christmas display

Couple has been adding to tiny village display for past 11 years

Otter Point Fire Department hosts 26th Polar Bear Swim

Annual event takes place Jan. 1 at Whiffen Spit beach in Sooke

William Head fence debate a big deal out of nothing says officials

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns met with William Head warden Thursday

CRD divided over fire dispatch, agrees to investigate single site option

‘Saanich taxpayers have been subsidizing fire dispatch in the region for several years’

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15- to 19-year-olds, including one in Vernon

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

VIDEO: Colquitz students cram Saanich Police cruisers with food

Food literally burst out of the door from Const. Lisa Bruschetta’s cruiser

Most Read