Salmon farmers propel B.C. to a banner year for agriculture
Consistently ranked as the 4th largest farmed Atlantic salmon producer in the world, farmed salmon continues to be B.C.’s most valuable seafood export
Salmon farmers in British Columbia exported $541 million worth of Atlantic salmon contributing to a record-setting year for agriculture in the province in 2018, new government data shows.
Consistently ranked as the 4th largest farmed Atlantic salmon producer in the world, farmed salmon continues to be B.C.’s most valuable seafood export with a 12 per cent share of total agrifood and seafood provincial export sales in 2018.
After Atlantic salmon at $541 million, the highest value seafood exports were $159 million in crabs; $103 million in hake; $56 million in Sockeye salmon; and $55 million in geoduck clams.
The total aquaculture harvest of 98,000 tonnes was up 0.1 percent from the previous year, while the farmgate value increased 5.8 percent to $814.6 million.
Overall, the aquaculture sector propelled B.C. to set new a record in 2018 with exports of $4.5 billion — about 10% higher than in 2017.
“It was an excellent year for agriculture in British Columbia. The hard work of many has led to record results,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture.
“The people who make up B.C.’s agriculture industry are hardworking and dedicated, and their passion for growing, raising, harvesting and producing fresh great-tasting food and beverages is why the industry is reaching new heights.”
The milestone includes increases such as a 4% rise in food processing, 6% in agriculture and 11% in seafood revenues. The number of overall sector employees in B.C. also increased to a 10-year high of 63,400 in 2018, with 2,300 more jobs than the year before.
B.C. consumers and companies continue to be the main buyers of B.C. agri-food products, with an estimated $6.4 billion of purchases.
B.C. producers sent $3.1 billion worth of farm and food products and $1.4 billion worth of seafood to 149 international markets, with the United States, China and Japan as the top importers. B.C. companies also sold an estimated $4 billion worth of products in other Canadian provinces and territories.
“2018 was a great year for B.C. seafood with strong supply, strong demand and strong export prices,” said Christina Burridge, executive director, BC Seafood Alliance, adding “British Columbia has a first-rate reputation for safe, sustainable and healthy products from our ocean.”
“This new data really underscores that B.C.’s economy is fuelled by farm, fish and food,” said James Donaldson, CEO, BC Food & Beverage.
“The export growth numbers are also exciting, as an increasing number of people around the world are getting to appreciate the amazing products that come from our province.”
The top five seafood export markets for British Columbia were the United States at $769 million (55 percent); China $306 million (22 percent); Japan $122 million (nine percent); Ukraine $39 million (three percent); and Hong Kong $35 million (three percent).
In total, B.C. farmers, ranchers, seafood and processing workers contributed to a record-setting year in 2018, with annual revenue from businesses in those sectors reaching $15 billion for the first time, the government said.
B.C. SEAFOOD SNAPSHOT IN 2018
- B.C. is consistently ranked as the 4th largest farmed Atlantic salmon producer in the world;
- B.C. led the nation in sales of farmed salmon, wild salmon, crabs, wild clams (including geoducks), halibut, wild sablefish, hake, rockfish, tuna, wild sea cucumbers, sea urchins, and skates;
- Sales: $1.29 billion;
- Harvest: 294,300 tonnes;
- GDP: $347 million;
- Share of Provincial Total GDP: 0.1%;
- International Exports: $1.4 billion;
- Seafood Jobs: 4,505;
- Total sales of primary seafood production in B.C. were $1.29 billion in landed and farm-gate value – an increase of 10.5 percent above 2017;
- Approximately 2,372 vessels harvested 2.1 percent less wild fish, shellfish and marine plants in 2018 than in 2017;
- The 196,300-tonne commercial fishery harvest generated a total landed value of $476.4 million – up 19.7percent over 2017;
- The total aquaculture harvest of 98,000 tonnes was up 0.1 percent from the previous year, while the farmgate value increased 5.8 percent to $814.6 million;
- Top 10 seafood commodities in terms of sales were farmed Atlantic salmon, wild salmon, crabs, wild geoducks, halibut, prawns, wild sablefish, hake, rockfish, and herring;
- In 2018, B.C. exported $1.4 billion in seafood products to 78 markets, an increase of 8 percent in value from 2017.
B.C.’s seafood sector comprises primary production from commercial fishing and aquaculture.
Primary seafood production does not include post-vessel or post-farm processing. Photo courtesy of BCSFA