Sustainable Seafood is a Pride of B.C. with Untapped Potential


Fisherman putting the fishing net into the water © Courtesy of Fisheries Council of Canada

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By Paul Lansbergen

Paul Lansbergen © Courtesy of Fisheries Council of Canada

It’s no secret that British Columbia’s diverse landscape makes it a producer of some of the most coveted food in Canada—and the waters off of its coast are no different.

B.C. produces some of Canada’s best wild-capture seafood, like salmon, crabs, and prawns. The crisp, cold waters of the Pacific Ocean produce seafood that is recognized around the country and the world for its quality and sustainability. It’s a pride of the province that deserves to be celebrated.

Ask anyone where the best sustainable seafood comes from, and Canada will probably make the list. Our fisheries, whether they’re on the east, west, or north coast, are known for being stewards of the ocean with a vested interest in protecting the bounty of the sea. Across
Canada, 94 percent of fisheries are harvested at sustainable levels. Above that, the majority of fisheries in Canada hold third-party sustainability certifications from organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council. In fact, Canada’s levels of third-party sustainability certifications are multiple times higher than the global average.

This is because fishing is one of Canada’s oldest industries. Residents of coastal communities in provinces like B.C. have built their lives around harvesting fish from the ocean, creating family businesses that support thousands of jobs in rural and Indigenous communities. Canadians remained passionate about protecting the resource for generations to come as those businesses grew to become a cornerstone of the national economy.

Exports from B.C. fisheries were valued at $1.5 billion in 2019, making it the third-largest seafood exporter in Canada, after Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Across Canada, the seafood industry supports over 90,000 jobs and generates $9 billion in GDP each year. It is the largest ocean-based jobs supporter in the country, making it a key industry for the provinces and territories that border our three oceans.

With the federal government’s mandate to create an ocean-based Blue Economy, we can expect provinces like B.C. to see a significant economic boost as investments are made in growing our fishing industry. Canada has the capacity to support our coastal provinces by sustainably doubling the value of Canadian seafood, doubling the economic benefits and doubling domestic consumption.

As we strive to restore Canada as a top-three global producer of the best sustainable seafood, B.C. will be essential in leading the charge. We need to create opportunities for B.C. to grow its fishing industry—and along with it, increase the jobs and supply chain it supports. This will be instrumental in the coming months and years as Canada strives to boost its GDP and help residents in COVID-19 recovery.

Seafood is a pride of B.C. It supports local jobs and generates a sustainable industry for the province, all while being renowned for its quality and taste. These are all things that Canada—and the rest of the world—needs more of. It’s time to capture B.C.’s seafood opportunity and lead the way for Canada to build a Blue Economy.

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The Fisheries Council of Canada is a non-profit trade association that has been representing, for over 100 years, companies engaged in the harvesting, processing, importing and marketing of wild-capture fish and seafood.


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