Geoduck harvesting vessels on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (Photo/Geoduck from Canada)

B.C.’s wild seafood exports snagged in Beijing’s recent COVID-19 panic

Chinese salmon false alarm spills over to other Canadian seafood products

A false alarm linking salmon and COVID-19 in China is creating a serious ripple effect for B.C.’s seafood industry.

On Sunday, state-run-newspapers in China reported an unconfirmed hypothesis that a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing’s Xinfadi market could be traced to a cutting board used for imported salmon.

Although China’s Centre for Disease Control (CCDC) and Prevention exonerated imported salmon Tuesday, saying no traces of COVID-19 were found on the packaged fish before it arrived in Beijing, a series of far-reaching implications had already been set in motion.

First, China halted all of its European salmon imports. Then certain wild seafood exporters from B.C. were asked to stop exporting their product to China as well.

“There’s serious implications for all kinds of seafood being exported to China,” said Christina Burridge, executive director for B.C. Seafood Alliance.

Burridge said wild seafood like sea cucumbers, spot prawns, geoducks, and dungeness crabs are products with significant markets in Asia.

“These products don’t have a large domestic market, with 95 per cent of it exported to markets in China and other Asian countries,” said Burridge.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada statistics, Canada’s fish and seafood exports to China were valued at $1.17 billion in 2019. B.C. was one of the top seafood exporting provinces, with exports valued at $306 million.

Wild seafood products such as crab and geoduck accounted for $324 million and $94 million in Canadian exports to China, compared to salmon exports valued at $60 million. Canada’s major salmon market is the U.S.

Burridge also said she has been hearing reports that Chinese authorities are demanding all seafood be cooked before export. That would be a challenge since most Canadian seafood is sought live.

The World Health Organization stated COVID-19 is not transmitted through fish and the origins of the new cluster in Beijing is still uncertain. However China halted all salmon imports from Europe after genetic traces of the virus found in Beijing suggested it could have come from Europe. Supermarkets in Beijing also removed salmon from their shelves.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) stated Canadian seafood continues to be among the “healthiest foods” consumers can choose. Timothy Kennedy, President and CEO of CAIA , said that there have been no restrictions on Canadian farmed salmon imports so far and that the supply still continues. But he added China has increased its product testings and that is slowing down the process of getting product into the country.

“China has high trust in CAIA.” said Kennedy, who added that there was no reason to worry since none of the aquaculture farms in Canada reported any cases.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s $50 million geoduck industry hit after China’s market slumps

CoronavirusFisheries and Oceans Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Volunteers sought to remove weeds from Port Renfrew’s Parkinson Road

Road has no sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk on pavement

Falling oak tree causes minor damage to Langford home

Tree damages garden and gutters of home on Lindsay Place

Residents to start moving into first of 100 new affordable homes in Langford

Construction underway on second phase of affordable Indigenous housing project in Langford

New space secured for Sooke homeless

The shelter will be ready for residents on July 20

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

Most Read