OTTAWA - Apr. 23, 2024 - Canadians and the world have experienced 390 million Canadian-produced salmon meals vanishing from stores and restaurants, instead being replaced by salmon flown in from other countries at higher prices and a larger carbon footprint.

Today, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) reveals alarming 2023 salmon farming production numbers, and urge the federal government to make science-based, common-sense decisions about ocean-based aquaculture to enable salmon farmers to regain lost production and provide affordable meals to Canadian families.

Farm-raised salmon production in Canada fell from a peak of 148,000 metric tonnes (mt) in 2016 to 90,000 mt in 2023, the lowest number since the year 2000.

Farm-raised salmon is the most popular seafood choice of Canadians. This reduction from the peak in 2016 adds up to the equivalent of eliminating more than 390 million salmon meals in total, and when considering Canadian-raised salmon that is not exported, removing 192 million salmon meals from the dining tables of Canadian households.

The main reason for the reduction is because of government-mandated farm closures in British Columbia.

“Canadians have said again and again that they want access to more Canadian-produced food. In the case of Canadian-raised salmon, they’re being denied and are seeing less and less,” said Tim Kennedy, President & CEO of the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA).

“Canada’s modern ocean salmon farming is among the most sustainable in the world with all farms being certified to international third-party standards and operating under modern regulations to protect the environment. The farm closures in BC since 2020 have not been based on science and have not put Canadian consumers’ best interests and health first. The peer-reviewed science consistently shows salmon farms have a less-than-minimal impact on wild salmon and salmon is one of the healthiest products for consumers,” continued Kennedy.

“For a country with so much potential, the overall reduction of Canadian-raised salmon is staggering,” said Kennedy. “We are ocean farming less than 1 per cent of the viable area along our coastlines and producing less and less of an important domestic food supply when the market demand is remaining steady.”

For many years, Canada has been the fourth largest salmon producer in the world behind Norway, Chile and Scotland. Norway’s salmon production was 1.55 million mt in 2022, 17 times larger than Canada’s 2023 production. The drastically reduced 2023 production numbers leave Canada defending its fourth position with Australia and Faroe Islands very close (2022 production for those countries was 77,600 mt and 89,100 mt, respectively). This is despite Canada having the world’s longest coastline and far more bio-physical potential than these other nations to lead the world in sustainable seafood farming.

Aquaculture is the future of seafood production globally – the world cannot meet global food demands without it. Canada’s salmon farmers are committed to the stewardship of both wild and farm-raised salmon.

BACKGROUND:

RIAS, Inc. Salmon Farming Production Data: StatsCanada, CAIA

BC Export Data

Canadian Consumer Opinion: Dr Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University and colleagues and the Angus Reid Institute recently surveyed Canadians about their interests in salmon. Canadians expressed a strong interest in wanting more Canadian-sourced farm-raised salmon over foreign imports of both wild and farmed salmon.

Sustainability: All Canadian salmon farms are independently third-party sustainably certified (BAP/ASC). Salmon farmers are ranked as the most sustainable large-scale animal protein producers in the world: the UK-based independent Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index | FAIRR of publicly-traded global animal protein producers includes 7 salmon farming companies in the top 10, including two companies operating in Canada at #1 and #4

International: For comparison, China produced 70.48 million mt of aquaculture product in 2020 (UN FAO, 2022). This is 440 times more than Canada. In 2022, Norway produced 1.55 million mt of salmon. This is 17 times more than Canada’s current production. Aquaculture will provide a growing share of the total fish available for human consumption rising from 57% in the base period (2020-2022) to 61% by 2032 (Aquaculture production [fao.org] and OECD-FAO)

Increased Carbon Footprint: Using the DHL calculator for carbon emission from air freight, replacement of Canadian salmon in the North American market by Chilean and Norwegian salmon shows that the reduction in Canadian salmon supply has added the carbon equivalent of 81,609 gasoline-powered cars to North American roads.

Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) is the national association that speaks for Canada’s seafood farmers, representing their interests in Ottawa and internationally. In 2022, CAIA members generated over $4.86 billion in economic activity, $1.87 billion in GDP, and employed over 16,800 Canadians delivering a healthy, growing and sustainable seafood farming sector in Canada.

The Case of the Missing 390 Million Canadian Salmon Meals

INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM

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BCSFA Website