Economic Benefit and Public Support for Aquaculture Confirmed

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
17 April 2007, at 1:00am

CANADA - A recent public opinion poll undertaken by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the BCSFA shows increasing support for sustainable aquaculture in British Columbia. A majority of respondents (65%) said they support the development of a sustainable salmon farming sector in BC; and less than one per cent identified salmon farming as the top environmental issue facing BC today.

These results complement an earlier survey commissioned by the Northwest Institute and undertaken by market research company, Synovate, which showed that 60 per cent of respondents believed salmon farming increased job opportunities and 41 per cent said a benefit of salmon farming was that it resulted in less pressure on wild salmon stocks.

These polling results also coincide with a preliminary report, commissioned by the BC Legislative Assembly’s Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture and reported on in the Victoria Times Colonist on March 22, 2007. The report shows the economic benefit of salmon farming to be nearly double than previously reported, crediting salmon farming with generating 7784 jobs.

“We have often estimated the number of direct and indirect jobs created by salmon farming in BC to be about 4000,” says Mary Ellen Walling, executive director, BCSFA. “This report confirms that our employment in coastal communities is significant.”

The report compares salmon farming, the wild commercial salmon industry and the salmon sport fishery on a number of economic variables including jobs (direct, indirect and induced) as well as economic trend indicators. According to farmgate production numbers salmon farming show a 93 per cent growth from 1997 (36,600 tonnes) to 2005 (70, 600 tonnes) and a 95 per cent increase in total processed output over the same period: $190 million in 1995 versus $371 million in 2005.

“Right now, there is more demand for our product than we can supply, we have created more jobs and economic benefits than previously reported and a majority of British Columbians support sustainable aquaculture, which is the only type of aquaculture our members endorse,” says Walling. “However, lengthy delays in processing new farm applications has resulted in the closure of some hatcheries and processing facilities, and we have turned away over $40 million dollars in capital investment in the last three years because of regulatory delays.” According to industry figures, the lost sales from the farms projected to have been in operation but which remain stuck in the application process is estimated at over $490 million dollars.