Farmed Salmon Now Top
by Associated Press
PRINCE RUPERT, British Columbia -- Booming sales of farm-raised salmon to U.S. consumers over the last several months have made the product the top agricultural export from British Columbia.
After two years of falling prices and declining sales, exports have risen by about a third in the last nine months and now rank fourth worldwide, according to figures compiled by Export Development Canada.
"While Mother Nature may be struggling to maintain world fish stocks, fish farmers are managing to fill the gap," wrote Stephen Poloz, the agency's senior vice president for corporate affairs and chief economist. "B.C. fish farming today is almost as big as the regular commercial fishery."
Demand is largely driven by American consumers, who eat 80 percent of the farmed salmon from the province.
"It's not surprising. We know the demand is up, and certainly prices are quite good as well," said Mary-Ellen Walling, executive director of the British Columbia Salmon Farmers' Association. "That demand for salmon is particularly increasing in the U.S. marketplace."
A provincial legislator, Gary Coons, said the increase also could be the result of other factors. He noted that in 2002, farmed exports were $287 million (US$249.7 million), but declined by more than 20 percent last year.
"They're just getting back to the same numbers they were at," Coons said. "It's basically up because they're putting more fish in the pens. I don't think it's a humongous increase."
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