“The most critical issue facing the aquaculture industry is the amount of misinformation that the media and a few individuals continue to perpetuate.“
By Samantha Bacchus McLeod
The newly unveiled Youth Council of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA) is all about greening forward for sustainable aquaculture to feed Canada and the world. This strong group of young individuals, who are already making waves in aquaculture, will act as advisors for concepts brought forth by salmon farmers and as seafood ambassadors for BC. Over the next few months, SeaWestNews in a special series of Q and A presentations, will explore how members of BCSFA’s Youth Council play a role in British Columbia’s Blue Revolution.
This segment on BC’s Blue Revolution features Matt McGoveran, Sea Site Technician, and Water Quality Technician, Mowi Canada West, and member of the BCSFA Youth Council.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
“I am originally from south western Ontario and I moved to BC in 2013. Growing up, I spent a lot of my time visiting, swimming, fishing, boating, and sailing on Lake Erie. During high school I took a trip to Costa Rica and completed my first dive as part of a discover scuba experience. It was amazing, and I knew I had discovered an important hobby…scuba diving has been an important hobby to me and was the inspiration for me joining the aquaculture Industry.”
How did you turn your hobby into a career?
“After completing the dives and returning home, I immediately started my official certification with The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). I dove every chance I got in Lake Erie and dove on many wrecks, my favourite being the Pascal P. Pratt, a coal shipping freighter that sank in 1908.”
What did you do after high school?
“After high school, I completed an Honours Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences majoring in Ecology in 2013 from the University of Guelph.”
Did you join the aquaculture industry immediately after university?
“After university I completed internships at the Vancouver Aquarium, and the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. For six months in the Bahamas I worked as an Open Ocean Aquaculture intern and assisted with the Aquaponics program there. After completing the internship, I came to Campbell River and completed my commercial dive certification and worked as a commercial diver, mostly for Allpen Diving and Floatation.”
What did you do there?
“Allpen’s dive crews service and maintain all underwater aspects of fish farming, everything from net inspections to plankton mitigation and video inspections…anything underwater, you name it, we did it.”
Did you stay there for a long time?
“I worked with Allpen for five years, but I wanted to do more, be a part of something bigger and I had learnt so much about aquaculture that I decided to return to university to complete a Post Degree Diploma in Fisheries and Aquaculture from Vancouver Island University (VIU)…shortly after that, I started working for MOWI Canada West.”
“No! I have not regretted my decision, especially now I am working as a Sea Site Technician, and Water Quality Technician. There are amazing career opportunities in a variety of fields in the salmon farming industry…the passion and commitment to being sustainable and environmentally friendly, and the constant drive to improve were and still are the main reasons why I committed myself to a career in the industry”.
As a young salmon farmer, what would you say are the most crucial issues facing your industry in BC?
“The most critical issue facing the salmon farming industry is the amount of misinformation that the media and a few individuals continue to perpetuate. That is damaging to the future of food, the future of salmon, and the future of farmers”.
Do you think the general population really understands what salmon farmers strive for?
“I hope they do! We are passionate about the environment, and we are committed to being sustainable. We value wild salmon as much as everyone else, even more so because we help the sustain the wild stock by reducing the fishing pressure already on them…salmon farms provide a sustainable alternative.
“I mean, our industry is continually scrutinized despite the scientific evidence. In addition, we are always looking to improve our practices, and we are always striving to be better.”
How do you see the future of fish, both farmed and wild, in BC?
“I believe the wild stocks are at a critical juncture…global climate change, damage to spawning habitat, overfishing and other factors have caused irreparable damage to wild salmon stocks…yet we are continually increasing demand for salmon, and as such, we need to look for alternatives to fishing out our wild stocks.
“I also believe the future will hold an increased reliance on Aquaculture, and Aquaponics, so that we can lessen the fishing pressures on wild stock…people need to continue to support and develop new initiatives to restore spawning habitat, and river habitat, and increase their reliance on sustainable alternatives so that the wild stock can recover.
“I reiterate…I firmly believe in the industry, and that we are the best alternative to wild salmon. We are going to be a major factor in helping wild stocks recover.”
If you had to choose, what would be your favourite body of water?
“I have experienced many amazing things underwater…and there is so much more to see on this coast, it is hard to pick a favourite spot to dive…ask me again in a few years!”
Your favourite seafood dish and why you love it?
“I recently had some farmed salmon smoked by Flurer Smokery and it has easily become my favourite seafood dish. It is addictively good. I put their smoked salmon in salads, on rice bowls, charcuterie, and eat it by itself…you can use it in so many dishes. My only regret is that I am running out and I need to get more…if anyone is craving smoked salmon take it to Flurer Smokery, you will not regret it!”
Flurer Smokery Ltd. is an Aboriginal-owned and HACCP-certified seafood export company. The company specializes in fresh, gourmet hot smoked salmon.