The economic wealth of BC’s wild fisheries through the commercial and sports fishery and processing far outweighs that of salmon aquaculture and the processing of farmed salmon.
BC’s Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture released an Economic Impact Study Final Report which states that in 2005:
- The salmon farming sector (both aquaculture production and processing activities) accounted for $371 million in direct output and contributed $134 million to provincial GDP.1
- The wild commercial salmon sector (both capture and processing activities) accounted for $216 million in direct output and $67 million in GDP.2
- The salmon sport fishing sector accounted for approximately $231 million in output and contributed $116 million to provincial GDP.3
Combined, the commercial and sport fishing sectors account for $447 million as compared with $371 million from the salmon farming sector. This figure also does not include tourism-related industry numbers.
The BC Economic Impact Study also reports that the industry estimates 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs, and the wild commercial salmon sector (1,600) and the salmon sport fishing sector (2,280) combined provide 3,880 full-time equivalent direct jobs.4
Whereas the dollar value difference between wild salmon marine industries and aquaculture is not highly significant, wild salmon industry jobs far outweigh the few jobs provided by the aquaculture industry.
Open net-cage salmon farming is jeopardizing the province’s sports fishery, commercial fishery, fish processing sector, and marine tourism – all of which contribute more economically than aquaculture.
In 2006, tourism in BC contributed over $6.8 billion to the Provincial GDP and supported 120,400 jobs.5
A 2005 report on Commercial Nature-Based Tourism in BC notes:
- Nature-Based tourism generated $1.55 billion in revenue in 2001.
- BC’s primary tourism product is nature – wildlife, fish and wilderness.
- Over 50% of nature-based tourism in the Province operates on Vancouver Island or the central coast and mountains tourism regions.6
Based on an analysis of the financial records of a sample of nature-based tourism industries in BC, the study, Economic Value of the Commercial Nature-Based Tourism Industry in British Columbia estimated the direct economic impact of this sector in 2001 as providing:
- $854 million in total output;
- $429 million in GDP; and
- 13,900 person-years of direct employment.7
When indirect and induced impacts are included, these estimates increase to $1.55 billion in total output and $783 million in GDP, providing 20,800 person-years of employment.
In comparison an Economic Impact Study report commissioned by BC’s Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture investigated all jobs provided by salmon farming in BC and concluded that the total of all direct, indirect and induced jobs in the salmon farming industry is 2,945 (significantly lower than the 6,000 industry most recently claimed).8
Wild salmon are the backbone of life in these coastal temperate rainforest regions. Healthy wild salmon runs feed the bears, eagles, orcas and even the old-growth riparian forests that derive the majority of the nitrogen fertilizing their growth from the carcasses of wild salmon.
This same region, supporting over 50% of a billion-dollar plus tourism industry, is also home to all of BC’s open net-cage fish farms—farms whose practices threaten the survival of the wild salmon.
BC Wilderness Tourism Association: www.wilderness-tourism.bc.ca.
Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, May 2007. Economic Impact Study, Final Report.
1-4,8 Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, May 2007. Final Report, P.1.
5 BC Government: BC Stats. (2006). Tourism Gross Domestic Product and Employment. http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/data/bus_stat/bcea/satacct.asp
6 January, 2005 – Characteristics of the Commercial Nature-Based Tourism Industry in British Columbia. Tourism British Columbia, in cooperation with the Wilderness Tourism Association. (“Characteristics” study).
7 September, 2004 - Economic Value of the Commercial Nature-Based Tourism Industry in British Columbia. Pacific Analytics and Tourism British Columbia, in cooperation with the Wilderness Tourism Association. (“Economic Value” study).
Marshall, D. (2003) Fishy Business: The Economics of Salmon Farming in BC. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.