Open-pen fish farm operations in Nootka Sound. (Submitted photo)

Open-pen fish farm operations in Nootka Sound. (Submitted photo)

Aquaculture suppliers call on federal government to support industry

Organization asking for ‘confidence-building measures’ including license renewals

According to a new national industry organization, the Canadian Aquaculture Suppliers Association, governments should move to restore confidence in the sector.

A federally registered non-profit, the Canadian Aquaculture Suppliers Association will work to encourage the growth of Canada’s aquaculture sector, advance the role suppliers play in the industry and be an advocate to protect aquaculture jobs, according to a press release from the organization.

“Those who supply our nation’s aquaculture sector directly employ thousands of Canadians, including in communities where jobs are scarce and economic opportunity is limited,” said Ben James, the association’s president, in a press release.

More than 20,000 Canadians are employed in aquaculture throughout Canada, including in some 250 Indigenous communities, and approximately $5.2 billion in annual economic activity is attributed to the industry.

“I’ve been involved in B.C.’s salmon industry for over 40 years and have witnessed the benefits that aquaculture brings to our people and traditional territories,” said Richard Harry, executive director of the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association, Homalco First Nation member, and owner of a company providing net cleaning services.

“Aquaculture provides Indigenous Canadians with economic opportunities and well-paying jobs, drastically reducing unemployment in many small, coastal communities. Without aquaculture, and specifically farmed salmon, I know many people who will have difficulties in finding work.”

Demand, domestically and internationally for seafood, is growing at a rate between seven and ten percent annually.

The organization is asking the federal government to support “confidence-building measures,” such as salmon farming license renewals. The organization also affirms the government should reassess its decision not to renew the salmon farm licences in the Discovery Islands, which it says threatens food security, local jobs and businesses.

It is estimated that the federal government’s decision to halt the renewal of the Discovery Islands permits has resulted in some $1.4 billion in planned national investment being frozen.

“Canadians are seeing their food bills increase dramatically thanks to inflation and stretched-thin global supply chains. Farmed salmon, responsibly cultivated in Canada, will lessen this impact, support local businesses, jobs, and First Nations along with benefiting Canada’s post-COVID recovery,” James added.

“There’s a lot at stake, both near-term into the future. Federal and provincial decision-makers, including Ministers Joyce Murray and Chrystia Freeland, along with Premiers Horgan, Furey, Higgs, and Houston, need to stand up, be counted and support Canadian jobs, businesses and future investment.”

READ ALSO: Industry report: not renewing B.C. salmon farm licenses comes with $1.2 billion cost

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