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New decisions on the closure of sustainable salmon farming in BC’s Discovery Islands region are expected to be made imminently by Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Until that time comes, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) reminds the government that its decisions to close sustainable salmon farming in British Columbia mean pocketbook pain for Canadian and American households.

In addition, following the line of the BC Salmon Farmers Association and its indigenous-led transition plan, in the release issued today, the organization also recalls that numerous First Nations in the area are demanding that the federal government support their right to oversee and host salmon farms in their territories.

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Increasingly higher prices

“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”. This is how categorical the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance’s statement released today begins.

The reduced supply of BC farm-raised salmon has driven the spot price of fresh West Coast Atlantic salmon 20% higher than in recent years, reaching record levels for this time of year. Grocers, they claim, are forced to import salmon from other countries. If the licenses pending decision were not granted, supply would be further reduced, exacerbating the situation, as well as increasing the carbon footprint.

“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”, states 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”, he adds.

Timothy Kennedy, CAIA's President & CEO. Photo: Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.
Timothy Kennedy, CAIA’s President & CEO. Photo: Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Proven sustainable production

The truth is that farm-raised salmon is the most popular seafood choice among North Americans. It represents almost 4 of every 10 seafood choices. We are talking about a sustainable product that, as independent multi-year science reviews by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) – most recently about sea lice – have shown, cause minimal or negligible risk to wild salmon in British Columbia. However, licensing decisions are often made based on this potential impact. Timothy Kennedy points out that, whatever is decided, will also have an impact on 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”, he says. “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”.

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The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance has approached the government before to urge it to produce more sustainable food. The organization ends its release today by saying that 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

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) is the national association that speaks on behalf of Canadian aquaculture producers, representing their interests at home and internationally to regulators, policy-makers, and political leaders. CAIA members – which include producers, associations, and supply & service companies – generate more than $5 billion in economic activity, $2 billion in GDP, and employ more than 20,000 Canadians, contributing to the health, growth, and sustainability of Canada’s aquaculture sector.

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