Geoduck harvesting vessels on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (Photo/Geoduck from Canada)

B.C.’s wild seafood exports snagged in Beijing’s recent COVID-19 panic

Chinese salmon false alarm spills over to other Canadian seafood products

A false alarm linking salmon and COVID-19 in China is creating a serious ripple effect for B.C.’s seafood industry.

On Sunday, state-run-newspapers in China reported an unconfirmed hypothesis that a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing’s Xinfadi market could be traced to a cutting board used for imported salmon.

Although China’s Centre for Disease Control (CCDC) and Prevention exonerated imported salmon Tuesday, saying no traces of COVID-19 were found on the packaged fish before it arrived in Beijing, a series of far-reaching implications had already been set in motion.

First, China halted all of its European salmon imports. Then certain wild seafood exporters from B.C. were asked to stop exporting their product to China as well.

“There’s serious implications for all kinds of seafood being exported to China,” said Christina Burridge, executive director for B.C. Seafood Alliance.

Burridge said wild seafood like sea cucumbers, spot prawns, geoducks, and dungeness crabs are products with significant markets in Asia.

“These products don’t have a large domestic market, with 95 per cent of it exported to markets in China and other Asian countries,” said Burridge.

According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada statistics, Canada’s fish and seafood exports to China were valued at $1.17 billion in 2019. B.C. was one of the top seafood exporting provinces, with exports valued at $306 million.

Wild seafood products such as crab and geoduck accounted for $324 million and $94 million in Canadian exports to China, compared to salmon exports valued at $60 million. Canada’s major salmon market is the U.S.

Burridge also said she has been hearing reports that Chinese authorities are demanding all seafood be cooked before export. That would be a challenge since most Canadian seafood is sought live.

The World Health Organization stated COVID-19 is not transmitted through fish and the origins of the new cluster in Beijing is still uncertain. However China halted all salmon imports from Europe after genetic traces of the virus found in Beijing suggested it could have come from Europe. Supermarkets in Beijing also removed salmon from their shelves.

The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) stated Canadian seafood continues to be among the “healthiest foods” consumers can choose. Timothy Kennedy, President and CEO of CAIA , said that there have been no restrictions on Canadian farmed salmon imports so far and that the supply still continues. But he added China has increased its product testings and that is slowing down the process of getting product into the country.

“China has high trust in CAIA.” said Kennedy, who added that there was no reason to worry since none of the aquaculture farms in Canada reported any cases.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s $50 million geoduck industry hit after China’s market slumps

CoronavirusFisheries and Oceans Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Homicide investigation underway in Prince George

A 26-year-old woman has died as a result of stabbing.

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Police search for Good Samaritans who intervened an assault

Fort St. James RCMP said the incident occured on June 14.

Fire burns down outbuildings and vehicle in Nak’azdli

No injuries were sustained by occupants or firefighters.

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Most Read