Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in
British Columbia

The BC Seafood Alliance is a non-profit organization established in June 1999 to represent British Columbia’s seafood industries. It is an umbrella group that unites traditional capture fisheries, aquaculturists, seafood processors, marketers and exporters who collectively represent more than 90% of the seafood produced in B.C.

The BC Seafood Alliance is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of seafood resources in B.C. for the benefit of all British Columbians. Its mandate is to foster public recognition and support for B.C.’s seafood sector, to promote the high quality of B.C. seafood products and to advocate for the effective management of B.C. seafood resources.

Development of a ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.‘

Over the past decade, B.C.’s seafood sector has undergone dramatic change. It has faced difficult challenges; in particular, the rationalization of the province’s commercial salmon fisheries, which for more than a century had been the backbone of the industry. It has also made tremendous strides toward sustainable fisheries management, and the development of new commercial fisheries and aquaculture sectors.

All of these changes have made B.C.’s seafood sector more competitive, and better positioned to optimize the value of the province’s seafood resources in the years ahead. The challenge for the seafood sector now is to work together to develop and pursue a common vision for the future ­ a ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’.

The development of this ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’ has been a two-step process.

First, members of the BC Seafood Alliance worked together over the past year to develop an information base concerning the state of the seafood industry, and to assess progress towards sustainability in the management of marine resources. Independent reports on The State of the B.C. Seafood Industry and Progress Towards Environmental Sustainability in British Columbia’s Seafood Sector were commissioned, and are available online at www.bcseafoodalliance.com.

Second, in order to consult more broadly about the future of B.C.’s seafood sector, the BC Seafood Alliance sponsored the first ever B.C. Seafood Summit on May 29, 2001. The Seafood Summit was the first event of its kind to bring together leaders from B.C.’s commercial fishery and aquaculture sectors, as well as the province’s seafood processors, marketers and exporters, federal and provincial government officials, First Nations and union representatives.

The ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’ presented in this document is the product of the BC Seafood Alliance’s work over the past year, and input provided by delegates to BC Seafood Summit 2001. It identifies the key principles that must guide the development of B.C.’s seafood sector in the future, and defines the ideal state of a modern seafood business in British Columbia. Finally, it presents an ‘Agenda for Change’, including priority recommendations for government and industry action and specific development targets.

Building on the changes of the past decade, the seafood sector believes British Columbia has the potential to substantially enhance the value of the province’s seafood resources in the next 10 years. To achieve this, efforts must be focused on new opportunities based on sustainability and competitiveness, whether these opportunities occur in capture fisheries, culture fisheries, processing or marketing.

It will take leadership from industry and the cooperation of governments to foster a vibrant and successful seafood industry in British Columbia. This ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’ is intended to be the first step in that process.

‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’

Key Principles

Through industry-wide discussions, consensus has emerged on a number of key principles that must guide the future development of B.C.’s seafood sector. These include:

  1. Conservation and sustainable management must be first principles for all seafood businesses in B.C. Without water and habitat quality, and ecologically sustainable resource use practices, the industry simply cannot achieve its long-term goals.
  2. British Columbia exports more than 90% of the seafood it produces. As such, the B.C. industry must earn recognition as a world leader in the production of safe, environmentally friendly, high quality and sustainable seafood products.
  3. Long term uncertainty is currently a significant deterrent to investment in the development of sustainable seafood resources in B.C. Governments must ensure certainty of access, as well as a responsive and progressive regulatory and policy environment, in all aspects of seafood production.
  4. The seafood industry in British Columbia must work together and show leadership in developing and implementing its ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.’

Vision for the Future

The BC Seafood Alliance’s vision for a competitive, environmentally sustainable seafood sector in B.C. includes:

the conservation and sustainable use of seafood resources in B.C. for the benefit of all British Columbians, both now and in the future;
a competitive and successful seafood industry in B.C. that pursues new opportunities and optimizes the long-term value of the province’s seafood resources;
a seafood industry that takes a more responsible and accountable role with government in the cooperative management and regulation of both capture and culture fisheries;
a positive business climate for all seafood businesses in B.C. ­ whether they are individual operators, companies or First Nations ­ that encourages investment in future development. This requires greater security of access and implementation of policies that ensure any new access to capture fisheries must be retired with compensation out of existing fishery access;
an industry that can count on government to ensure that all commercial fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing interests in British Columbia are regulated by a single, non-discriminatory management and legislative framework that does not create unfair advantage for some businesses over their competitors;
an industry that is recognized around the world for meeting and exceeding consumer demands for demonstrably safe, environmentally friendly, high quality and sustainable seafood products;
an innovative industry that is an acknowledged leader in the development and adaptation of new technologies, information systems and e-business strategies;
a seafood industry that works together to advance common goals and objectives.

Agenda for Change

In pursuit of this ‘Vision for a Modern Seafood Industry in B.C.,’ the BC Seafood Alliance has identified a number of priority action items, as well as series of performance measures by which the sector’s development can be measured over time. The BC Seafood Alliance intends to monitor the performance of the province’s seafood sector in advancing the ‘Agenda for Change’ on an annual basis.

Priority Action Items

  1. Within five years, negotiate cooperative management agreements for all of B.C’s commercial fisheries that establish the roles and responsibilities of the federal government, the provincial government and fisheries interests ­ and provides security of access to the resource for tenure holders.
  2. Within two years, establish a federally and provincially integrated and consistent policy framework for aquaculture in B.C. to encourage private sector investment in sustainable growth.
  3. Within one year, harmonize provincial and federal seafood inspection regulations to eliminate unnecessary provincial regulations by having all seafood in B.C. meet CFIA standards.
  4. Within one year, secure an explicit commitment from both the federal and provincial governments that any new access to capture fisheries must be retired with compensation out of existing fishery access;
  5. Within six months, establish a joint federal/provincial/industry task force to develop a proposal for the establishment of an organization and infrastructure to support industry research and development and to pursue an international marketing and brand development campaign for B.C. seafood products.
  6. Beginning in 2002, ensure that every integrated fishery management plan in British Columbia identifies key sustainability issues, goals and criteria, as well as a detailed plan and timeline to achieve them.
  7. By the end of 2001, implement performance-based waste management standards for finfish aquaculture.
  8. Within six months, establish a formal process for dialogue between B.C.’s wild fisheries and aquaculture sectors to pursue common interests, including protection of the marine environment, processing and other infrastructure synergies, technology transfer, policy issues etc.

Performance Measures

  1. Increase the total wholesale value of B.C. seafood products by an average of four per cent annually for the next 10 years. This would increase the total value the province’s seafood industry from approximately $1 billion to $1.5 billion by 2011.
  2. By 2005, regain British Columbia’s status as the leading exporter of seafood products in Canada. In 2000, B.C. exported seafood products valued at $903 million, while the leading Canadian province (Nova Scotia) exported seafood products valued at $1,096 million.
  3. By 2006, increase B.C.’s share of total Canadian seafood exports from 22 to 27 per cent. The total value of Canadian seafood exports in 2000 was $4.07 billion.

 

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