While aquaculture is a mature industry in Europe, it is fairly new in North America, emerging in Canada in the 1970s. British Columbia and the Maritime province of New Brunswick are frontiers of the aquaculture industry within Canada. Government and industry professionals feel positive about the future and predict a slow increase in the aquaculture production in the years to come. With the shift in Western societies to eat healthier, the likely demand for seafood products will increase. This bodes well for the industry as a whole and suppliers of aquaculture equipment.
Based on 2007 Canadian Aquaculture Statistics, commercial aquaculture production has become an increasingly significant sector in Canada, valued at $902 million. Seafood is the largest single food commodity exported by Canada. Aquaculture now accounts for 14% of total Canadian fisheries production and 33% of its value. Nationally, the consumption rate of aquaculture products, such as fin fish and mollusks are increasing, creating a demand for improved methods to increase production. In 2006, fin fish sales were valued at $867.2 million, a 26% increase from 2005. At the same time, revenue from mollusks increased 4.1% to $71.7 million.
In Canada’s 2008 Budget, the Federal Government has set an aggressive goal for 2015 to double the aquaculture industry value. An investment of $22 million over the next two years will help create the conditions for the Canadian aquaculture industry to succeed and grow in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner. This investment will streamline the regulatory process, strengthen science to create performance-based environmental standards, spur innovation to enhance the sector’s competitiveness and productivity, and develop a certification scheme to meet rigorous quality standards in international markets. This bodes well for US firms who manufacture products and equipment used in the aquaculture industry. Experts say there are still challenges to overcome, but feel positive about the future of the Canadian aquaculture industry. They predict a slow increase in aquaculture production in the next few years, mainly with expansion of existing farms. The increase will be larger on the east coast of Canada over the west coast.
By Judy Simonite