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2.1 Characteristics of production in the region
2.2 Regional production data
2.3 Production systems and practices in the region
2.4 Producers in the region
2.5 Organizations of producers
2.6 Financial investment by public and private enterprises

2.1 Characteristics of production in the region

Production from aquaculture in Canada has been limited, although the country has considerable potential. The aquaculture industry has been developing in all regions of Canada; notably with salmon, rainbow trout and oysters in British Columbia (B.C.); trout in the Prairie Provinces, Ontario and Quebec; and salmon, trout, mussels and oysters in the Maritime Provinces. Regional differences in climate and in freshwater and marine environments have created significant variations in the type and scope of aquacultural production across Canada. However, one element is common in all regions: aquaculture is a high-growth industry.

Greenland has no reported aquaculture production at present, or in past years (pers.comm., FAO Fishery Statistics Unit, Rome). However, salmon aquaculture in Greenland has been mentioned as a possibility, mainly to supplement natural stocks (which are subject to heavy international exploitation). An alternative suggestion has focused on sea-ranching of salmon using existing streams. Through stream enhancement and smolt-release programmes, leading to sea-ranching, an interest could develop in the salmon as a resource to be managed, not only harvested. A similar aquaculture effort with Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) might likewise yield benefits.

In the USA, aquaculture production has increased greatly in the past few years. In 1984, about 12% of all edible fish and shellfish in the USA came from aquaculture, whereas by 1986 the percentage had increased to about 27% (meat weights only calculated for oysters and clams). Salmon production has grown steadily in importance since the early eighties. Freshwater crawfish (Procambarus spp.) production increased 39% between 1984 and 1986. However, the most exciting aquaculture growth has been with the freshwater channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), which increased about 27% in volume between 1984 and 1986. Catfish farming since 1984 has annually represented about 35% of the total volume of production from aquaculture in the USA.

2.2 Regional production data

Total aquaculture production for the region (Canada, Greenland and the USA) in 1986 was 428 480 C (FAO, 1989). Canada's production was 11 396 t, or about 2.7% of the regional total. Greenland had no reported aquaculture production. The USA aquaculture harvest in 1986 was 417 084 t, or 97.3% of the regional production. Overall, the freshwater environment accounted for 56.4%, and the marine environment for 43.6%, of the total aquaculture production of the region. No production was reported from the brackishwater environment (FAO, 1988a). The common and scientific names of species/groups cultured commercially in North America are given in Table 3 (as used by FAO).

Canadian aquaculture production data for the years 1984, 1985 and 1986 are summarized in Table 4 (FAO, 1989), by species or group. Production increased about 10% (878 t) from 1984 to 1985, and about 24% (2 798 t) from 1985 to 1986. Fish represented about 30% (3 439 t) of the 1986 harvest, and molluscs about 70% (7 957 t). Production in 1984 and 1985 was similar with fish representing about 20-23% of total volume. During 1984-86 the freshwater environment produced an average of about 20% and the marine environment about 80% of annual production. No production was reported from the brackishwater environment.

Over 90% of the total volume of the 1986 harvest was from four species: Pacific cupped oyster = 3 700 t (32.4% of 1986 production); American cupped oyster = 2 400 t (21.0%); rainbow trout = 2 384 t (20.9%); and blue mussel = 1 845 t (16.1%). Few data are available from FAO for total value of Canadian production by group or species during 1984-86. However, information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), (1988a) is available and shows that the total value of 1986 aquaculture production was Can.$ 32.2 million; the main groups being as follows:

Rainbow trout

Can.$ 16 193 000

Atlantic salmon

3 724 000

American cupped oyster

3 704 000

Pacific cupped oyster

3 000 000

Blue mussel


Pacific salmon

2 702 000

Provisional figures for 1987 indicate that Canada's aquaculture production was approximately Can.$ 50 million, a considerable increase from the Can.$ 32 million recorded in 1986. Salmon constituted about one-half of the total Canadian aquaculture production value in 1987.

By 1989 the Canadian Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) may be well on its way to a national, computerized system for aquaculture statistics. The planned system would record cultured production figures, sales and prices, species, culture methods and operations, and employment numbers from all ten provinces.

USA aquaculture production data for the years 1984, 1985 and 1986 are summarized in Table 5 (FAO, 1989), by species or group. Production increased about 5.6% (20 459 t) from 1984 to 1985, and about 12.3% (51 654 t) from 1985 to 1986. Production in 1986 was 417 084 t; fish represented about 56% (234 033 t) of the total harvest, crustacea about 11% (45 014 t) and molluscs about 33% (138 037 t). The trend in production in 1984 and 1985 was similar with fish representing over 50% of total volume, followed by molluscs and then crustacea.

During 1986 the freshwater environment produced about 57% and the marine environment about 43% of the USA aquaculture harvest. No production was reported from the brackishwater environment. Over 87% of the total volume of the 1986 harvest was from six species, which are listed below along with production figures and percentage of the total harvest.



Channel catfish

148 627


American cupped oyster

89 268


Red swamp crawfish

44 318


Pacific cupped oyster

38 474


Rainbow trout

23 182


Golden shiner

20 000


The six most expensive species per kilo in 1986 were:


Giant river prawn


Atlantic salmon




Golden shiner


Olympia flat oyster


Whiteleg shrimp


The total value of the 1986 aquaculture harvest in the USA was about US$ 519 489 630 (FAO, 1988a). Five major species accounted for 79% of the value. They are listed below, along with their commercial value and percentage of the total 1986 harvest.



Channel catfish

228 885 580


Rainbow trout

55 636 800


Red swamp crawfish

48 749 800


Golden shiner

47 044 800


American cupped oyster

29 458 440


Not normally included in the aquaculture statistics for the USA is the production of hundreds of millions of juvenile fish per year to support the nation's valuable recreational fishing industry. The fish are produced in 75 facilities of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Hatchery System, by more than 1 000 private hatcheries across the US, and by the hundreds of state hatcheries that produce game fish for stocking primarily in public waters. Without fish culture, a number of these fisheries would collapse. The main fish stocked by federal, state and private hatcheries in 1980 to support US sport fisheries (primarily recreational) are given below by species and by numbers.



Walleye and sauger

261 205 910


189 310 930


175 770 720

Striped bass and hybrids

62 095 402

Northern pike

47 212 922


29 476 211


28 055 789


21 305 627

Largemouth bass

15 233 205

Muskie and tiger

7 484 942


5 024 210

Smallmouth bass

2 174 554


844 350 422

Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

2.3 Production systems and practices in the region

Details on the culture systems used to produce the bulk of Canada's aquaculture production can be summarized as follows:

Spat (seed) of the Pacific cupped oyster is either collected from the wild in British Columbia waters or obtained from local hatcheries. Some seed is imported from Japan and the USA. The main on-growing method is extensive bottom culture (1 741 ha under lease in B.C. in 1987), although there is some production from suspended culture. Approximately 75% of production is from the Gulf of Georgia, in southern B.C. American cupped oysters are cultivated in all three Maritime Provinces, mainly by extensive bottom culture. In Prince Edward Island (PEI) most oyster production is from harvesting from public beds and on-growing on privately leased beds, whilst in New Brunswick 75% of oyster production in 1987 was from public beds. Most oyster spat is collected from the wild, although locally produced hatchery spat is available.

The European flat oyster is cultured on trays, in lantern nets and by extensive bottom fanning. Most of the seed used is hatchery produced; there is limited wild seed collection. Seed of the blue mussel is collected from the wild on the Atlantic coast and is cultured on long lines. There is only experimental culture of the blue mussel on the Pacific coast of Canada. Clams are grown by bottom culture (extensive), using seed collected from the wild.

Atlantic salmon are intensively cultured in sea cages, using smolts produced in local private hatcheries. Pacific salmon are grown mainly in net pens in sheltered marine bays or inlets (178 operating farms totalling 940 ha in 1988) using intensive culture practices. The smolts are all hatchery produced. Rainbow trout production varies with the region of Canada although all fry are hatchery produced. On the Pacific coast trout are grown in freshwater ponds and raceways, using intensive methods. There is some experimental sea cage culture. In central Canada the main method is intensive freshwater pond culture, with some production coming from semi-intensive pothole culture in Manitoba. Most of the production in Quebec comes from freshwater ponds, although some raceways are also used. On the Atlantic coast rainbow trout are intensively cultured in raceways, ponds and in sea cages. The 50 t of northern bluefin tuna cultured in Atlantic Canada in 1984 came from tuna that had been wild caught and then semi-intensively on-grown for four months in large impoundment nets anchored to the sea floor, before being harvested.

Since 79% of the value of USA production in 1986 was accounted for by only five species, their production systems are now briefly described.

The bulk of channel catfish production is semi-intensive and intensive pond culture in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Small amounts in 1986 came from intensive raceway culture (1 100 t) and from intensive cage culture (527 t). Mississippi catfish farmers, who produce about 80% of the US catfish, had 29 800 ha in commercial production in 1985. By the end of 1986 the amount of total area had increased by 10%, to 32 800 ha, and was expected to reach about 36 400 ha by the end of 1987.

Most rainbow trout farming takes place in freshwater raceway systems, although 10% of the 1985 harvest was produced in sea cages. Trout culture in the USA is usually intensive. The state of Idaho is the leading producer.

In 1986 red swamp crawfish were cultured for food on about 52 600 ha in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and South Carolina. Crawfish are cultured in several types of ponds. Wooded ponds may produce 225-338 kg/ha under extensive practices. Ponds constructed solely for crawfish culture, and rice fields used in rice/crawfish double-cropping, usually average about 900 kg/ha. Intensively cultured ponds can produce 2 800-3 360 kg/ha if managed well. A major trend in crawfish culture involves double-cropping of rice and crawfish. The USA grows rice on 1.01-1.13 million ha of farms that possess the major ingredients for growing crawfish, i.e. water, levees, and a source of food (decaying rice stubble).

Golden shiner is a freshwater species produced solely as baitfish for the sport and commercial fishery industry. Most golden shiners are cultured in enclosed ponds supplied with water from underground sources. Yields as high as 1 570 kg/ha have been achieved in well managed ponds, under semi-intensive conditions. Arkansas is the main producer of golden shiner (and other baitfish) and in 1982 had 22 800 ha devoted to baitfish production; Minnesota reported 731 baitfish ponds totalling about 6 500 ha. The states of Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri each had a minimum of 400 ha of ponds devoted to baitfish culture.

The majority of American cupped oyster seed (spat) is collected from the wild and on-grown extensively in suitable inshore areas. Commercial oyster hatcheries provide seed mainly in the Pacific area of the USA. With very well managed bottom culture (such as in Long Island Sound, New York) it is possible Co produce 5 000 kg/ha (of meat) per year. Public grounds, with little or no management, produce only 10-100 kg/ha (of meat) per year. Studies of off-bottom culture have indicated that 0.1 ha covered by rack culture could yield 2.6 t of meat per year. The size of an oyster culture operation varies from 1-1.2 ha in Maryland, to 4-6 ha in Virginia, to 80 940 ha in Long Island Sound. In the Gulf Coast area, over 93 000 ha of leased tracts were in production in the early eighties. No data are available for total area under oyster production in the USA.

2.4 Producers in the region

In 1986 there was a total of approximately 3 101 licensed aquaculture establishments in Canada. Of these licensed establishments, 2% were for the purpose of culturing Atlantic salmon, 3% for Pacific salmon, 29% for trout, 55% for oysters and 11% for blue mussels.

As many as 7 000 people were involved in aquaculture production in Canada in 1987, but many were 'seasonal', part-time workers or private fish farmers licensed to rear trout for their own use (mainly in Central Canada). Some general figures are available and are summarized as follows:

Maritime Provinces:

1 000 seasonal jobs in oyster farming, 500 people in blue mussel culture and 220 people in the salmon farming industry in 1987.


about 500 people directly involved with trout culture.

British Columbia:

1 400 people directly employed in aquaculture in 1987 (118 salmon farming sites, 154 trout farming operations, and 249 oyster growers operating 385 leased sites).


500 jobs directly associated with trout farming.

Central Canada:

about 100-150 commercial fish farm operators and about 1 000 private fish farmers licensed to rear trout for their own use.


120 commercial fish farmers (trout) in 1987 and about 2 300 private licensed fish farmers.

The private aquaculture industry in the USA employs tens of thousands of people, some as full-time producers and many as part-time or 'seasonal' workers. Estimates of numbers of producers are available for only a few of the main groups/species being commercially cultured.

Channel catfish:

In 1980, over 3 800 operators were reported involved in catfish farming. Not known how many employed on average farm. Since then production has expanded over 400%.

Rainbow trout:

653 growers of all types (egg producers, fingerling producers, market fish producers and grow-out producers); 1 086 operators of trout for fish-out ponds.

Freshwater crawfish:

40 processing plants operating in south Louisiana in 1982 and 100 'soft-shell' producers in 1988.

Golden shiner:

1 544 baitfish farms in 1978. Not known how many employed on average per farm.

American cupped oyster:

1 424 individual (private) lease tracts in Louisiana; 247 oyster businesses were identified from Maine to Virginia.

The private sector involvement in USA aquaculture in 1980 was summarized as follows: the US aquaculture industry is represented by 1 100 catfish farms; 250 trout farms; 400 crawfish farms; 25 commercial salmon farms; over 500 oyster culture firms; 30 firms culturing clams, mussels and abalone; 15 US-owned shrimp farming firms operating in Latin America and the USA; 20 freshwater prawn firms concentrated in Hawaii; and a number of individuals and firms who are culturing other species.

Between 1980-86, USA aquaculture production increased about 445%; therefore the total number of producers and people working in production would have expanded greatly as well.

2.5 Organizations of producers

At least 31 associations are active in promoting commercial fish and shellfish farming development in Canada. Associations represent various scopes of interest: species specific, geographically specific (within a province), provincial species specific, and provincial (representing all aquaculturists in a province). Membership size varies with the respective industries, and some associations are much more established and active than others.

In British Columbia there are 10 main associations: the Aquaculture Association of B.C., the B.C. Oyster Board, the B.C. Oyster Growers' Association, the B.C. Oyster Marketing Board, the B.C. Salmon Farmers' Association, the Barkley Sound Growers' Association, the Campbell River Aquaculture Association, the North Island Mariculture Association, the Sunshine Coast Aquaculture Association, and the Western Trout Farmers' Association.

In Manitoba there is the Manitoba Rainbow Trout Farmers' Association. In Saskatchewan there are two groups: the North Saskatchewan Rainbow Trout Farmers' Association, and the Saskatchewan Aquaculture Association.

Ontario has two main producers groups: the Ontario Trout Farmers' Association and the Ontario Trout Producers' Cooperative Ltd. Nova Scotia has one main group: the Aquaculture Association of Nova Scotia. Two main associations are active in Newfoundland; the Bay d'Espoir Salmon Growers' Cooperative and the Newfoundland Aquaculture Association.

New Brunswick (N.B.) has seven groups: l'Association des Aquaculteurs de la Bale de Caraquet, l'Association des Aquaculteurs de Pigeon Hill, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Atlantic Silver Ltd., l'Association des Pêcheurs d'huitres de la Baie de Caraquet, l'Association des producteurs d'huitres de Lameque, and the New Brunswick Salmon Growers' Association.

There are four main producers' associations in Prince Edward Island (PEI): the PEI Cultured Mussel Growers' Association, the PEI Trout Growers' Association, the Prince County Shellfish Association, and the Queens County Oystermen's Association.,

Two large national organizations exist in Canada: the Aquaculture Association of Canada, and the Canadian Aquaculture Producers Council (CAPC). The Aquaculture Association of Canada was created in 1983 to foster the development of aquaculture in Canada by promoting research, communication and education. Membership in the association is open to everyone: producers, academics, government officials, and anyone with an interest in aquaculture. CAPC was formed in January 1987 to provide a unified, Canada-wide voice for the aquaculture industry and to promote communication with governments and other relevant groups. The CAPC executive is comprised of executives from various provincial associations as well as individual aquaculturists. The association meets regularly with officials of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

In the USA 10 very large organizations, representing thousands of members, are active in promoting commercial fish and shellfish farming development at the national level. They are: (1) American Catfish Institute, (2) Catfish Farmers of America, (3) National Ornamental Goldfish Growers' Association, (4) Shellfish Institute of North America, (5) Pacific Coast Oyster Growers' Association, (6) US Trout Farmers' Association, (7) National Shellfisheries Association, (8) International Association of Astacology, (9) American Sport Fish Institute, and (10) the American Alligator Farmers' Association.

At the state level in the USA there are at least 40 associations active in promoting aquaculture and commercial fish farming. Such associations are in the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. As an example of how many smaller associations there are in the USA (either species oriented or of a regional interest within one state), the state of Alaska, with a total population of only about 500 000, had seven regional aquaculture associations in 1987.

Therefore, at present, about 50 national and state associations serve the aquaculture industry across the USA. By mid-1989, plans will be finalized to establish a "National Aquaculture Association" to represent the entire American fish farming industry. The new association is being set up to provide the US aquaculture industry with a central voice in such matters as water regulations, predator control, foreign imports/competition, and US government legislation and permits.

2.6 Financial investment by public and private enterprises

The investment in the plus 100 federal and provincial salmon and trout hatcheries across Canada totals in the hundreds of millions of dollars. In British Columbia alone, as of 1988, the 120 active private salmon farm sites on the provincial coast represented approximately Can.$ 200 million in investments. Sea Farm Canada in New Brunswick, completed in December 1987 as a salmon hatchery/nursery, was constructed at a cost of Can.$ 2.5 million. Also in 1987, a Can.$ 3.5 million tank farm (Sea Springs Farm) for rearing salmon trout was completed in PEI. Government assistance (Can.$ 1.3 million) under the Canada-New Brunswick Economic Regional Development Agreement (ERDA) was provided in 1986 to help a dozen existing Bay of Fundy salmon farmers expand their operations and assist nine new salmon farmers to start their operations. Several other examples of investment programmes specifically targeted at aquaculture include: Prince Edward Island's five-year Can.$ 2.25 million Aquaculture Development Program, Newfoundland's Mussel Culture Incentive Program, and Quebec's recently announced programme to assist aquaculture development.

The Canadian federal government is also investing in the construction of aquaculture research and development facilities, demonstration farms, and university research laboratories. For example, the B.C. Aquaculture Centre is presently being constructed with Can.$ 6 million government funding, as a research and development facility. During 1985 government invested in establishing a Salmonid Demonstration and Development Farm in New Brunswick to meet the needs of the developing salmonid aquaculture industry. In late 1988, construction finished on the University of Guelph's Alma Research Station, which has expanded facilities for research in the fields of fish nutrition, genetics, aquaculture engineering, reproduction and basic physiology.

Investments in aquaculture in the USA in just the past few years total thousands of millions of dollars. In 1983 (National Aquaculture Development Plan) it was calculated that over US$ 100 million was invested in baitfish growing enterprises; more than US$ 400 million in catfish farming; over US$ 100 million in freshwater crawfish; about US$ 25 million in freshwater prawns; about US$ 10 million in largemouth bass cultivation; up to US$ 430 million in trout production; US$ 715 million in capital investment in salmon culture and US$ 20 million for annual operating costs (about one-third of this investment was spent on hatcheries); US$ 50 million for ocean-ranching of salmon; US$ 27 million for pen-rearing operations with salmon; about US$ 44 million for penaeid shrimp culture; millions of dollars for tropical aquarium fish production; and millions invested in production of fry of various fish for stocking/enhancement programmes, to name but a few of the major investments up to 1982.

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