British Columbia is blessed with tremendously diverse and productive ocean and freshwater habitats and resources. However, our aquatic foods sector may not currently be living up to BC’s potential. Can we have both healthy, sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems; and a thriving, innovative seafood sector that together benefit BC’s coastal communities?
According to the BC Government’s new 2010 Year in Review of the BC Seafood Industry, $1.4 billion worth of BC seafood was produced in 2010. This includes farmed salmon,(our biggest agricultural export), wild salmon, shellfish and many other species. $960 million worth of this seafood wealth was exported to 74 countries. Asia continues to be an increasing target market, and the BC Premier is currently on a trade mission to China and India, promoting our natural resource wealth, including BC seafood.
Additionally, our highly productive and diverse ocean and coastal resources also provide numerous social, cultural and environmental benefits for BC. In light of the increasing potential to grow our seafood production and export, many important research and dialogue questions arise. For example: What role does seafood play in food security on Vancouver Island? How do we ensure protection of all our coastal ecosystem values so we can truly say we produce and export sustainable seafood? What market opportunities would open up with new technology and innovation in the sector? How will climate change affect our ability to grow shellfish? How will coastal First Nations maintain their access to traditional resources? How can traditional capture fisheries continue to operate and meet market requirements with decreasing funding available for science? The VIU Institute for Coastal Research (ICR) will explore these issues and many others in the upcoming 2011 ICR Symposium: Opportunities in BC’s Seafood Economy: Critical dimensions in the search for innovation and sustainability. This two day event is taking place November 22 and 23 on the VIU Nanaimo Campus.
November 22 is open to the public and includes speakers addressing these issues in a fresh way through talks across five cross cutting themes: food security and health, science and research, culture and society, markets and trade, and environment and sustainability. Questions and discussion will follow each presentation. On November 23, a more in-depth, invite-only workshop will take place that will result in identification of potential strategies, actions and partnerships, as well as compiled information on the topic for further distribution and use.
The VIU Institute for Coastal Research (ICR) has an interdisciplinary research mandate focusing on coastal communities of British Columbia, the Pacific North, and beyond. The aim of the ICR is to foster interdisciplinary research involving the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities as they relate to coastal study, research and activity. The focus is on understanding and promoting the resilience of our coastal social-ecological systems.
For more information on the November 22 public event: http://www.viu.ca/icr/docs/VIUSeafoodSymposiumPoster.pdf
To receive an invitation for the November 23 workshop, please contact:
Program Lead, Aquatic Foods Initiative
Institute for Coastal Research
Vancouver Island University