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Salmon farming in B.C. is an important coastal industry with farming operations mainly in small rural areas, including Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Tofino and Campbell River, as well as in First Nations communities, such as Klemtu and Ahousaht.
About 76,000 tonnes of salmon is grown in B.C. annually, which accounts for 95% of the total provincial output. B.C salmon farmers grow 58% of all salmon raised in Canada and account for 60% of the total landed value of seafood in British Columbia.
Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, and the province’s second most valuable agricultural crop. With approximately 70% of the annual harvest exported, farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s top agricultural export, going to 11 countries around the world - with 85% of exports destined for the United States, and the emerging Asian market accounting for about 15% of all exports.
In 2015, trade with Asia was up 38% over the previous record in in 2013, with B.C. exporting fresh farm-raised salmon for the first time to South Korea (Statistics Canada CATSNET Analytics, 2015).
Overall, farming salmon in B.C. generates approximately 1.14 billion per year to the province’s economy, and accounts for about 5,000 jobs - typically located in rural coastal areas and paying approximately 30% more than the median employment income in B.C.
Salmon farming provides long-term stable employment with an average wage approximately 30% higher than the provincial median employment income.
In addition, the diversified salmon farming sector – which includes producing, service, and supply companies – typically creates jobs in areas of higher unemployment, especially on Northern Vancouver Island, which is amongst B.C.’s highest rates.
Contributing more than $410-million to the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and resulting in almost 5,000 jobs, salmon aquaculture is an industry of great importance in coastal communities.
Enhancing the well-being of a community is a key goal of salmon farming companies in B.C. because coastal communities are the foundation of their operations.
Members of the BC Salmon Farmers Association take pride in supporting more than 350 community organizations - contributing over $600,000 annually and donating approximately 23,000 pounds of salmon each year.
In addition, BCSFA members are also regular partners with research organizations and educational institutions throughout B.C. – including University of British Columbia, Vancouver Island University, Excel Career College and North Island College – to promote aquaculture research and training. In addition, about half of the member companies provide student scholarships and bursaries.
B.C. salmon farmers commit to growing the coastal economy by creating lasting, equitable partnerships with First Nations.
Salmon farming companies in B.C. have engaged in 20 economic and social partnerships with coastal First Nations, and are working on many more. Partnership agreements include formal protocols between First Nations and companies farming in their traditional territories, creating ongoing open dialogues, and ensuring that salmon farming benefits everyone involved. With 78% of B.C.'s farm-raised salmon being raised in partnership with First Nations, these agreements establish guiding principles for environmentally sustainable aquaculture practices that are respectful of
First Nation objectives - including further enhancement of their economic diversification by developing aquaculture ventures in support of primary production.
In addition, Salmon farming companies make an effort to enhance quality of life in First Nations communities through sponsorships for sports, scholarships, and cultural, educational, and elder activities.