Imagine a sustainable salmon economy in Clayoquot Sound that works for everyone.
Open net-pen salmon farms allow the free flow of lice, pesticides, salmon sewage, antibiotics, and excess feed into the marine environment. Juvenile wild salmon and herring can also swim into the farms where they are eaten or trapped if they grow too big to swim back out.
First Nations stewarded wild salmon for millennia, creating abundant, thriving cultures. From dried salmon to make it through the winters, to ancestral cedars to build canoes and houses, west coast peoples have flourished along with wild salmon.
Baby salmon migrating out to sea from Clayoquot Sound’s rivers must run a gauntlet of salmon farms on their migration routes, and cannot avoid picking up fatal loads of salmon lice from the farms.
British Columbia’s coastal economy is entirely dependent on wild salmon. Clayoquot Sound clearly demonstrates this—from commercial fishers to top-level chefs, from bear-watching guides to fly fishers.
Commercial and sport fishing, both of which depend on thriving wild salmon populations, contribute the majority to the total GDP (64.1%).
In stark comparison, this pie chart reveals that aquaculture contributes only 9.3% to the total GDP. Of this, salmon farming is responsible for 94% of the GDP contribution. Therefore, by taking 94% of aquaculture’s contribution to GDP, you can work out the contribution of salmon farming to GDP: $58.2M.
As a percentage, salmon farms contribute only 8.7% of the total contribution to GDP.
By comparing the sectors within the wild fish economy to salmon farming, it becomes clear that salmon farming contributes relatively little to our GDP.
Compared to salmon farms, commercial fishing contributes almost double to the total GDP. Sport fishing contributes nearly six times more than salmon aquaculture.
Therefore, commercial and sport fishing contribute 7.4 times more to the economy than salmon farming. It is vital to note that this figure is conservative. It does not take into account the wild fish used within the processing sector which is higher than that of farmed fish.
These figures do not consider BC’s tourism industry which contributed a whopping $6.5 billion dollars to GDP in 2012, and is largely dependent on the survival of wild salmon.
Let’s not forget that salmon also nourish coastal old growth forests. Up to 80% of the nitrogen in the trees of BC’s coastal rainforest comes from salmon carcasses, dragged from streams by bears, wolves, and eagles and many other species, all of whom rely on annual salmon runs for their own survival.
Supernatural British Columbia would not be a world-class destination without wild salmon. They are the backbone of the coast.