Expansion of industrial salmon farming likely to produce few or no new jobs in BC, new economic study shows

July 17, 2003

Vancouver--A new economic study shows that industrial salmon aquaculture will deliver no or few new jobs in BC, even if the industry doubles in size. What's more, the industry produces relatively few jobs and minimal economic benefits to the provincial economy right now, according to the CCPA study.

The peer-reviewed study, Fishy Business: The Economics of Salmon Farming in BC, shows that wild marine fisheries create seven times more jobs and wages, compared to industrial salmon aquaculture in BC. And wild fisheries are worth more than four times as much in terms of provincial GDP, and more than three times as much in terms of BC's exports.

"Fish farm expansion is being dangled before coastal communities as a panacea for jobs and economic stability. But this is a false promise," says study author and CCPA resource policy analyst Dale Marshall. "The fact is, running a fish farm takes very few people. And the record in BC, and major fish farm jurisdictions like Norway and Scotland, is that over time, fish farm operations require fewer and fewer workers."

The study also warns that the economic risks posed by industrial salmon aquaculture to BC's lucrative and diverse coastal wild fisheries could be tremendous.

"We're basically playing Russian Roulette with our coastal-dependent economies - without knowing how many bullets are in the chamber," says Marshall. "The scientific community has already shown that there are risks to other marine industries, such as wild salmon fisheries, tourism and sport fishing," he adds.

A growing number of coastal community leaders have already reached the conclusion that economically, industrial salmon aquaculture is not worth the risk to other more lucrative local economic activities.

"The fact is, wild fisheries are not only our most important economic drivers, they're critical to us culturally. That's why our tribe has adopted a strict no fish farm policy. It's just not worth the risk," says Chief Charlie Williams. Williams is the Hereditary Chief of Gwawaenuk and President of the Kwakiutl Territorial Fisheries Commission in Alert Bay.