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Farmed salmon vital element of BC economy

CANADA - A profile of the British Columbian salmon farming industry showed the sector made a significant contribution to coastal economies last year. There is a strong demand for BC farmed salmon within the expanding global market and future prospects for the province's fish farmers are very favourable.

The profile, prepard by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, shows that direct employment in salmon farming has more than doubled since the early 1990’s. The business is expanding rapidly, in line with increased market demands and the industry's direct, indirect and induced impacts are similar to agriculture and food processing, says the report.

The economic output from BC salmon farming is more than $800 million and the total employment over 6,000. In addition, there are strong market prospects for the future. Production increased in 2006, up by 16% on the previous year from 70,6000 metric tonnes to an estimated 82,000 metric tonnes.

“Right now, there is more demand for our product than we can supply and the market is growing.” says Mary Ellen Walling, executive director, BC Salmon Farmers Association.

“This report confirms that our employment in coastal communities is significant and it bodes well for the many men and women who have made a career in sustainable salmon farming," she added.

A public opinion poll undertaken by Ipsos Reid, on behalf of the BCSFA recently, shows increasing support for sustainable aquaculture in British Columbia. The majority of respondents (65%) said they supported the development of the industry in the region; with less than one per cent identifying salmon farming as an environmental issue.

BCSFA hopes that the 2006 profile and the results from its poll will clarify some of the certainty that provincial government has about salmon farming. It may help pending applications for expansion plans to meet the rapidly growing market demand for its products - which has economic ramifications for the business, employment and the BC economy.

Farmed salmon production has grown significantly and now accounts for 70% of the world's salmon harvest.

Consolidating BC’s prominance on the world stage is the location of three of the world’s largest salmon farming companies in the province. These companies recently merged under the Panfish corporate umbrella to form Marine Harvest Canada, which has the capacity to produce upwards of 30% of the world’s farmed salmon. Other significant producers in BC include Grieg Seafood, Mainstream Canada and Creative Salmon.