“We need to find ways to produce a lot more seafood, not just salmon and we need to do it locally, not somewhere over the horizon,” Brian Kingzett, BC Salmon Farmers Association.

Seafood sustainability champ to helm BC Salmon Farmers Association

“We need to find ways to produce a lot more seafood, not just salmon and we need to do it locally, not somewhere over the horizon,” Brian Kingzett, BC Salmon Farmers Association.

By Fabian Dawson

Brian Kingzett, a veteran marine biologist and globally renowned seafood sustainability champion, has been named the new Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association (BCSFA).

Kingzett, who was BCSFA’s Director of Science and Policy since 2021, has over thirty-five years’ local and international experience in the aquaculture field involving government research, academia and the private sector.

In his previous role, Kingzett navigated the sector through new policy development areas, fostered collaborative research initiatives, and enhanced BCSFA’s science communications and public education efforts.

“We have a lot of work ahead as we accept the challenge of the Federal government’s transition process and further reconciliation with our indigenous partners,” said Kingzett, who has a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Victoria, and Master of Science from Simon Fraser University in Marine Biology.

Kingzett has also held volunteer positions as President of the BC Shellfish Growers Association, and as a board member of the   Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.    He has also led a global committee to develop best practices for sustainable mollusk aquaculture that is a standard used by the Global Aquaculture Alliance.

“I have devoted my entire career to seafood sustainability and am looking forward to helping the sector realize its potential as part of Canada’s Blue Economy,” he said.

“We are very pleased to have Brian onboard as the new Executive Director,” said Diane Morrison, Chair of the BCSFA and Managing Director of Mowi Canada West.

“He’s been a valuable member of the BCSFA team and in his new role, his experience and knowledge of the sector ensures the Association is in good hands,” she said

Kingzett will replace Ruth Salmon, who is retiring as the Interim Executive Director for the BCSFA, a position she held since February 2022. Salmon served as Executive Director of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance for ten years and has been a member of the BCSFA team since 2018.

The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association represents over 60 businesses and organizations throughout the value chain of finfish aquaculture in B.C. Its members account for over 95% of the annual provincial harvest of farm-raised salmon in British Columbia.

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.’s highest valued seafood product, the province’s top agricultural export, and generates over $1.2 billion towards the B.C. economy, resulting in thousands of jobs.

SeaWestNews, caught up with Kingzett, a former commercial fisherman and shellfish farmer, for this Q&A as he takes up his new role with the BCSFA.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

 “I am a Jack of all trades marine biologist and took my first undergraduate course in aquaculture in 1986.  I have been pretty much involved with aquaculture-related biological research and fisheries conservation ever since. I have also worked as a commercial fisherman, a DFO researcher and a consultant and have spoken at several international conferences in Scotland, Brazil, Australia, USA, Japan and China. Prior to joining BCSFA, I worked at Vancouver Island University as manager for the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility focussing on interdisciplinary linkages between environment, community and sustainable seafood. I have a passion for photography and write articles for industry and science-related publications.”

What are your priorities as the new Executive Director for the BCSFA?

“Our immediate priorities are the DFO Transition process   and ensuring that the industry is coordinated through the process…we must achieve outcomes that are driven by science that benefits our First Nations partners, coastal communities, the industry and our environment. The member companies within the association are leaders in indigenous reconciliation and many First Nations, especially those within the Coalition of First Nations for Finfish Stewardship (FNFFS) are gaining more equity and I want to help continue to facilitate that.  I also want to help facilitate the continued transparency of the industry and make sure that we help cut through the polarized rhetoric that surrounds the sector.”

What is your vision for salmon farming in BC?

 “Our current federal government includes as its biggest priorities, indigenous reconciliation, climate change, food security, jobs and realizing a sustainable blue economy.  As a sector our members companies and employees are working to create this future every day, but do not receive the recognition that they should. Our goals align with the governments’ broad goals and when this is realized, we will be able to create even more opportunities and work to create even better environmental outcomes.”

What do you think is the biggest misconception about salmon farming in British Columbia?

 “The biggest misconception about salmon farming is that this sector is a large risk and responsible for the demise of wild salmon. This is simply not true according to a wide range of scientific studies. The issues with wild salmon are diverse and complex – salmon farming has become a political scapegoat for all things that are wrong with our wild salmon returns. I also think that those that listen to the rhetoric forget that almost to a one that salmon farmers are passionate “fish geeks”, they love all salmon, wild and farmed.  Most see farming salmon as a way to take pressure off of wild stocks and to create better environmental outcomes. There will always be room for more innovation and improvement and that commitment is shared across the sector.”

What is your definition of success in this role?

The association’s role is to support the joint activities of the members and help facilitate them to act together as a sector.  We are very fortunate that we have an incredibly professional, collegial and committed series of management teams across all the companies. In the day-to-day role – success is ensuring that we meet their needs. 

I think it is really important to not lose sight of the big picture. Globally our oceans are under considerable stress from just not enough wild fish to support our current population, now at 8 billion and on its way to more than 10 billion, while seafood consumption per capita is increasing dramatically. Simultaneously climate change is going to have dramatic effects on our food systems and local ecosystems. These are what are described as “wicked problems”, global in nature, probably impossible to solve and at best managed. We need to find ways to produce a lot more seafood (not just salmon), we need to do it locally, not somewhere “over the horizon” where environmental standards may be less stringent. We need to do this in a manner that uses less resources and has a low carbon footprint. Salmon farming has the ability to be a major contributor to these challenges while producing significant positive socio-economic outcomes.”

(Submitted image shows Brian Kingzett, Executive Director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association)