CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Salmon farmers in British Columbia are achieving third-party certifications as fast, or faster, than any region in the world with farmers raising Atlantic Salmon fish – representing about 95% of the average annual harvest, hitting key milestones on their way to fulfilling their commitment of sustainable development being 100% certified to Aquaculture Stewardship salmon standard by 2020.
This is detailed in the 2016 BCSFA Sustainability Progress Report released at the 2016 BCSFA Business Summit in Campbell River, B.C.. Salmon farmers in British Columbia are continuing to develop programs and practices that increase the understanding of modern salmon aquaculture practices and provide greater transparency for the public by publishing their second annual Sustainability Progress Report.
With a focus on three pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic and social – the report covers issues of importance, such as certifications, increased monitoring of ocean conditions, fish health management, advancements in farming technology, economic impact on coastal areas, and community engagement.
"This report furthers our members' commitment to transparent operations and shows great gains against many key indicators over the past few years," said Jeremy Dunn, Executive Director, BC Salmon Farmers Association.
"Although there's more work to be done and a resolve to continue improving, B.C.'s results are as good or better than any farming region in the world. From a global perspective, B.C. is a relatively small producer of farm-raised salmon, but the contributions to local community and economies, particularly on Vancouver Island are significant. Our farmers are proud that they're showing it's possible to create jobs and respect the environment at the same time."
Key data presented in the report includes:
o All BCSFA member operating salmon farms are certified to comprehensive third-party standards. This includes farms certified by the Global Aquaculture Alliance – Best Aquaculture Practices (GAABAP), Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) salmon standard, and Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard.
o B.C. farmers raising Atlantic salmon have committed to be 100% certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) salmon standard by 2020. To date B.C. members have achieved certification for 11 salmon farms.
o Salmon farming contributes over $1.1-billion to the B.C. economy every year, and about 5,000 jobs, which pay approximately 30% more than the median employment income in B.C.
o 78% of the salmon raised in B.C. is done so in partnership with First Nations. Collectively, salmon farming companies in B.C. have continued to seek agreements with First Nations and now have 20 economic and social partnerships, and are working towards many more.
o B.C. salmon farmers set a new record for exports in 2015, and are on track to set new records in 2016. China is now B.C.'s second most important export market, next to the United States, with an increase of volume of 140% from the previous high in 2012. In 2015, trade with Asia was up 38% over the previous record in 2013.
o 2015 was a very abnormal year with respect to water conditions, generally attributed to the ‘blob' of warm water that existed off of B.C.'s coast for much of 2014 and 2015. All B.C. salmon farmers conduct daily water monitoring, which includes temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and algae/phytoplankton. 2015 temperature values were higher than average for all four coastal farming regions of B.C., with some months approximately 1.5oC – 2.0oC higher. 2015 salinity values were higher than average in July and August for all four coastal farming regions of B.C.
o B.C. salmon farmers set a new standard in the efficient use of feed, reaching an industry record feed conversion ration (FCR) of 1.2:1. On average it takes 1.2kg of feed to increase the animal's weight by 1kg. Salmon are the most efficient eaters of any farm-raised animal.
o Salmon feeds used in B.C. contain less than 15% marine-based products (fishmeal and fish oil), and 75% of sourced raw materials come from within Canada and the United States.
o Salmon farming companies in B.C. continue to invest in farming systems resulting in improvements in key indicators such as escapes. In 2015, 3 salmon escaped from farms into the marine environment.
o The BCSFA's Marine Environmental Research Program – managed through an independent Science Advisory Council – contributed funds to 6 projects. Industry has committed $1.5 million to research projects, identified by the Science Advisory Council, between 2015-2020.
o Through advancements in fish health management and improved vaccines, antibiotic use over the past two decades has declined substantially. On average, B.C. farms treated their fish with antibiotics 1.4 times per production cycle in 2015 (over the span of approximately 2 years).
o In 2015, about $600,000 and over 23,000lbs of salmon was donated by B.C. salmon farmers to more than 350 community organizations and causes.
About the BC Salmon Farmers Association:
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, generating more than $1.14-billion towards the provincial economy. The BCSFA represents the province's vibrant and diversified salmon aquaculture sector inclusive of companies raising salmon as well as the businesses that proudly provide services and supplies.
For more information visit BCSalmonFarmers.ca
Photos courtesy BC Salmon Farmers