Demand rising for seafood from British Columbia

Demand for farmed and wild seafood from British Columbia, Canada has been on the rise globally, according to presentations at the 2019 British Columbia Seafood Expo and Festival. 

The convention, which was attended by international buyers, trade commissioners and representatives, and local fishermen, took place on Vancouver Island last weekend.  

Clare Li is the sustainability director for Gindara Sablefish, which is the world’s only commercial scale net-pen sablefish farm, and she said they produce 2 million pounds annually, a number that is growing by about 15 percent every year. Much of it is shipped to Japan where it is enjoyed as sashimi.

Sablefish is also known as Black Cod, or Gindara in Japanese, and Li said the popularity of the fish is growing domestically as well. 

“More and more Canadians are also coming to love it and yes definitely there has been lots of interest from people everywhere in the world,” Li said. 

A common thread that came up in speaking to growers and fishermen was the rising demand from countries in Asia.

“We cannot meet the demand that’s out there,” Darlene Winterburn, the executive director of the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association, said. “It’s an amazing product that is loved in Canada, the US, Europe and in Asia … With Asia being a constantly growing market.”

Oysters are one of the most prized types of seafood coming out of the province and the harvest in 2017 totaled 7,700 tons, which made up more than a third of the total shellfish harvest in the province. 

But it’s not just sablefish and oysters that is being enjoyed by Asian countries, it’s B.C. salmon as well. Salmon is the province’s highest valued seafood product and provides more than 6,000 jobs. 

“Markets in Asia are showing huge potential for B.C. salmon with year-over-year growth more than doubling in many markets,” John Paul Fraser, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said. 

Nguyen Van Binh, from Vietnamese food processing company Ha Long Canfoco, agreed. 

“We are hoping to get a secure and steady supply,” he said. People love it.”

Macao, Hong Kong and Japan were the fastest growing export markets at 130 percent, 41 percent and 4 percent, respectively.


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