Government decisions to shut down sustainable salmon farming in British Columbia leads to pocketbook pain for Canadian and U.S. households
February 1, 2023
OTTAWA, ON – Recent federal government licensing decisions to shut down sustainable salmon farming in parts of British Columbia (BC) mean that Canadian salmon is costing more for families, is harder to find in grocery stores and is being replaced by farm-raised salmon flown in from elsewhere in the world.
Spot prices for West Coast fresh Atlantic salmon (all farm-raised) are at record highs for this time of year, up 20 per cent over the last few years, with the price jump being driven by reduced supply of BC-grown farm-raised salmon. Grocers looking for more Canadian-grown product in response to consumer demand are being forced to import salmon from other countries.
In December 2020, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced a decision to shut down sustainable salmon farming in the Discovery Islands region of BC. The decision was subsequently overturned by the federal court. In response to the original federal decision, salmon farmers closed down farm sites, thus reducing production levels. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is expected to imminently make new decisions regarding the same farms in follow up to the federal court’s ruling. Numerous First Nations in the area are demanding the federal government support their right to oversee and host salmon farming in their territories.
An already constrained global supply market for salmon and increasing demand for salmon is resulting in the highest prices ever. Further reduction of supply will exacerbate this situation. The supply from the Discovery Islands region was approximately 20,000 tonnes of salmon, the equivalent of 120 million meals and approximately one-quarter of the production of BC. Replacing this Canadian salmon with product from other nations will result in an increased carbon footprint estimated at 163,000 tonnes of carbon due to air freight, or the same as adding 35,000 cars to the road.
”At a time of major food inflation resulting in higher prices for consumers, recent government decisions to shut down sustainable salmon farms, without scientific basis, and reduce supply to consumers is having a major price impact on this healthy, fresh and sustainable supply from Canada,” says Timothy Kennedy, President & CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance “When the supply of farm-raised salmon drops, and demand continues, prices go up for Canadian families – it’s Economics 101.”
Sustainable, farm-raised salmon is the most popular seafood choice of North Americans, making up almost 4 of every 10 seafood choices. Recent independent multi-year science reviews by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans indicate minimal or negligible risk to BC’s wild salmon from salmon farming. Farm-raised salmon makes up the large proportion of global salmon supply.
“These salmon farming licensing decisions also impact Canada’s economy. Less Canadian farm-raised salmon for Canadian domestic consumption and export means lost jobs in rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and higher GHG emissions as the Canadian salmon is replaced by product flown in from elsewhere around the world. It doesn’t make sense to have a policy to reduce production of a sustainable, healthy, affordable, food product like Canadian farm-raised salmon, and these past licensing decisions must be corrected by the federal government.”
Canada has an unparalleled opportunity to produce the very best, most sustainable farm-raised salmon in the world that supports families with fresh and healthy food at reasonable prices. Now, more than ever, Canadian families need access to affordable, healthy domestic food, and salmon farmers in Canada need strong positive signals from the federal government that they are committed to a collaborative partnership, based in peer-reviewed science, to grow this innovative sector.
About Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) is the national association that speaks for Canada’s seafood farmers, representing their interests in Ottawa and internationally to regulators, policy makers and political leaders. CAIA members generate over $5 billion in economic activity, $2 billion in GDP, and employ over 20,000 Canadians delivering a healthy, growing and sustainable seafood farming sector in Canada. For more information, please visit www.aquaculture.ca.
More information on Canadian salmon farming, including the sector’s new sustainability commitments, can be found at www.lovesalmon.ca.
Contact: Sheri Beaulieu, Communications and Marketing Manager, CAIA
Mobile: 613 853-0612